Stirring comeback saves Spain
© Foto-net

Holders Spain came from three goals behind to snatch a share of the spoils from a thrilling encounter with Iran at Maracanazhino.

The Asian champions had looked on course for a famous victory after establishing a seemingly comfortable advantage, but the Spanish are never to be written off and they stormed back in style to delight an enthralled crowd.

The contrast in style was evident from the outset, with Spain's tactical mastery pitted against an Iranian team packed full of quick, skilful players adept at striking on the counter-attack. The first evidence of the Asians' intentions came when they claimed an early lead, Ali Hassanzadeh providing an intelligent assist for Mohammad Taheri to open the scoring.

Spain's coach Venancio Lopez reacted by shuffling his pack, moving Javi Rodríguez, Marcelo and Alvaro into advanced roles, but it was to prove - initially at least - to no avail. Iran remained deadly on the counter and, before Spain knew what had hit them, two classic sucker-punches from Taheri and Vahid Shamsaee had left them three down and on the canvas.

The Europeans bounced back up to show the mettle of true champions, however, with another shrewd Lopez switch paying dividends. Torras provided renewed hope from short range and Borja increased expectations with a low shot that the excellent Iran goalkeeper could'nt keep out.

The stage was set, and no-one was unduly surprised when Torras popped up to fire home the equaliser with four minutes remaining. Spain, in fact, could even have gone on to seal victory but will surely be content with having rescued a draw from the jaws of defeat.