Iran keep Super Eagles grounded
Iran and Nigeria had to settle for a point apiece after an uninspiring goalless draw in their Group F meeting in Curitiba.
Nigeria spent the majority of the first half on the front foot but struggled to carve out clear openings. Ahmed Musa went close with a free kick that seemed to catch Alireza Haghighi off guard, but the Iran goalkeeper did well to get across and preserve parity.
The best chance of the half came against the run of play when, on 34 minutes, Reza Ghoochanneijhad brought a fine save from Vincent Enyeama with a close-range header, but the teams went in level at the break.
In the second half, Nigeria struggled to assert their authority on the match as boos rang out from the stands. Substitute Shola Ameobi was handed a presentable opportunity with 20 minutes to play but failed to direct his header, and in the dying moments Mehrdad Pooladi rose to deny the former Newcastle striker as he challenged at the far post.
Victor Moses had Nigeria's first chance in the third minute when he hit a poor shot at inexperienced Iran keeper Haghighi.
Haghighi looked uncomfortable when pressured by the Nigerian front men and was lucky to escape in the seventh minute after flapping at a corner.
The ball dropped to Kenneth Omeruo who poked the ball in the net but the referee had already blown for a foul on the keeper by Mikel.
Emmanuel Emenike was having some success down the Nigerian left with Iranian right-back Pejhman Montazeri struggling to contain the speed of the Fenerbahce striker.
Musa tried to cut a clever free kick inside Haghighi's left-hand post from long range in the 31st minute but the Nigerians' lack of cutting edge began to instil the Iranians with confidence.
Their big chance came in the 33rd minute when Ghoochannejhad met an Ashkan Dejagah corner with a header, which brought an excellent reflect save out of Enyeama.
Iran continued to grow in confidence early in the second half when Ghoochannejhad screwed a long-range shot wide of target, but it had developed into a largely dismal affair with neither side looking capable of challenging Group F rivals Argentina or Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ameobi replaced Moses after 52 minutes and immediately came close to connecting with a cross from the left by Aziz. And, after Ogenyi Onazi drilled a low shot straight at Haghighi, the Nigerians came close to grabbing a scarcely deserved victory in the final minute.
Ameobi then met a Juwon Oshaniwa cross with an effort that was superbly intercepted by Poolani, then the same player blocked an Ameobi header before the final whistle was greeted by a chorus of boos.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report