Despite never playing with the fluency of their first two outings, Argentina strolled into the second round after a 6-1 defeat of Iran in the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004. The South Americans top their group with maximum points from three games. Defeat means the end of the road for the Asian side, though, who bow out after a brave showing.
Argentine coach Fernando Larrañaga was unhappy with his team afterwards. "Compared to the Portugal match we totally failed to concentrate, although we managed to apply pressure in the second half and stifle the Iranians before they got going."
Both teams named unchanged line-ups for this vital final group encounter. With two wins under their belts, Argentina knew a draw would see them through to the next phase, but anything less than a win would be fatal for Iran.
Tactical caution and one or two crunching tackles marked the opening exchanges before the first chance after seven minutes. Diego Giustozzi tried his luck from close range but Iran custodian Reza Nasseri pulled out a stunning stop. The Asians raced to the other end and Shamsaee might have done better with his first decent opening. With just eight minutes on the clock Iran conceded their fifth team foul as Lotfi felled Gonzalez, leaving referee Filppu with no option but to point to the spot. Captain Sanchez converted to put the Albiceleste in front after 10 minutes.
Shamsaee led the Iranian resistance and nearly scored with a fine solo effort after 12 minutes, before Argentine keeper Javier Guisande produced a brilliant reaction save with his right elbow to deny Iran's star striker after quarter of an hour. Argentina looked dangerous on their rare excursions forward and Bresciani saw his shot drift agonisingly wide. Iran were rewarded for their efforts after 16 minutes when Shamsaee, the only Iranian to pose any realistic threat throughout, equalised from a direct free-kick. Gimenez and Giustozzi were stung into action but Iran looked far less porous in defence compared to their first two games.
After the break, Shamsaee led an Iranian raid down the right but the 24th minute chance was snuffed out in front of goal. Two minutes later, Petillo got a toe to a Sanchez drive but the ball skidded wide of goal. Knowing a point would not be enough, the Iranians now poured forward. Their opponents, in contrast, were happy to absorb the pressure in this phase.
The Iranian storm finally blew itself out, and the South Americans come out of their shell to serve up a masterclass in clinical finishing. Garcia made it 2-1 from close range on 33 minutes, and although Petillo fired over from Sanchez' lay-off a minute later, Gonzalez took full advantage of Masoumi's hesitation to increase the margin on 35 minutes. Wilhelm blasted home another from 10 metres just 60 seconds later as Iranian heads went down, and the same player converted ten-metre free-kicks on 37 and 39 minutes to round off a distinctly flattering 6-1 victory.
Iran coach Mohammad Ansarifard commented: "It's possible our tactics were too narrowly focused on Shamsaee and we were below our best as a unit today. We also gave away our fifth foul much too early."