Iran hold Portugal to goalless half

Half time: Portugal 0 Iran 0

Half time: Portugal 0 Iran 0

Portugal wasted several clear goalscoring opportunities as Iran held them to a scoreless first half in Frankfurt.

Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo came the closest to scoring when he had a header cleared off the goal-line only one minute before hitting the side-netting with a drilled effort from the right.

Luiz Felipe Scolari fielded his strongest squad, making three changes from the dull 1-0 opening victory over Angola.

Barcelona star Deco returned from an ankle injury to join Ronaldo, who shook off leg problems to be fit, as well as Inter Milan´s Luis Figo in an impressive midfield.

Chelsea’s Maniche and Dynamo Moscow´s Costinha also found themselves in the starting XI at the expense of Benfica’s Petit and Lyon’s former Chelsea midfielder Tiago.

Iran boss Branko Ivankovic gave in to public pressure and opted to keep veteran striker Ali Daei on the bench just 24 hours after announcing the struggling striker would definitely start. Mehrzad Madanchi took his place up front.

Portugal needed just 33 seconds to carve out the first opening as Figo found Deco with a low cross from the right but the unmarked 28-year-old was too surprised to get a decent shot away.

After Maniche got close with two long-distance bombs, Miguel outfoxed two defenders with a tidy solo run on the right which was halted just in time to prevent him causing any damage.

The huge amount of Iran fans, who were barely outnumbered by their Portuguese counterparts, cheered every time play switched towards Ricardo´s goal, and they roared when Madanchi had a promising solo run blocked after 15 minutes.

It came just two minutes after Deco had forced Iran stopper Ebrahim Mirzapour into a spectacular one-handed save with his shot from 10 yards out on the left.

Portugal kept pressing as Ricardo Carvalho threatened with a header and Ronaldo did likewise with a powerful shot from the right.

However, Iran made their presence known in the 32nd when Andranik Teymourian rattled the left post with his shot from 13 yards out, which was flagged offside.

Ronaldo then took over in the 34th minute. After Hossein Kaabi had stopped his header from Figo’s corner on the goal-line, the Manchester United star hit the wrong side of the net with a powerful shot.

Just before a fast-paced half came to a scoreless conclusion, Mirzapour bravely diverted a Miguel blast from a sharp angle to safety.

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