Iran scored a deserved 1-0 win over European heavyweights Netherlands to claim top spot in Group C. Though they started the day marginally clear at the top of the group on goal difference, the Asian side had extra reason to celebrate upon news that Colombia had been held 2-2 by Gambia. The Netherlands must now await the completion of the group phase tomorrow to see how they stack up as a third-place finisher.
With all to play for both teams came out playing with a high intensity despite the heat. Iran soon had the better of proceedings displaying good forward movement. Impressive attacking weapon Mehrdad Yeganeh unleashed a superb snapshot from just outside the penalty area and it was only the ball curling late that saw the target miss Warner Hahn's post by the narrowest of margins.
Iran took the lead on 25 minutes as Milad Gharibi received a short pass from a quickly taken free-kick and outpaced a flat-footed defence to score easily past an exposed Hahn. It should have been a two-goal margin eight minutes later but Netherlands miraculously survived as Hahn made a remarkable double save. Firstly the Dutch custodian made an excellent stop from a Yeganeh header and then saved a shot from Kaveh Rezaei with his legs when it would have been easier for the Iranian to score.
Soon after Iran's Saeid Lotfi latched on to a loose ball but skied his shot to throw away an excellent opportunity. Netherlands came stronger in the second half playing a second striker desperately looking for an equaliser. A driving run from Oranje's Shabir Isoufi allowed Ouasim Bouy a strike on goal put the ball missed the target
On the hour mark, Iranian dangerman Yeganeh thrashed a shot against the side-netting from just outside the penalty area with Hahn struggling. Five minutes later, Dutch striker Luc Castaignos created space in the penalty area and his square ball found substitute Bob Schepers but pushed a golden opportunity to equalise wide of the mark.
Moments later Rezaei should have scored but after fending off his marker he failed to beat the impressive Hahn who made a superb low save. Both sides continued to create half-openings as the match continued at a high pace but Iran maintained their lead for a worthy victory.