Nigeria won many midfield duels with their efficient interceptions and concentration. For their efforts, they failed to complement their possession with incisive play as they resorted to long passes and diagonal balls, to the comfort of their adversaries. They were very slow in entering the final third of the pitch hence their final pass was always predictable. The erratic shooting summed up the first half.
The only defensive test the Africans had to deal with was the corner-kick from the right. The marking was very poor as they allowed a free header by Reza. Victor Enyeama did well to parry the ball back into play. He was fortunate to pick up substitute, Joseph Yobo with that clearance as Iran were within range to capitalise as the ball was played straight into the traffic. Save for the good passing game in midfield, it was an overall poor performance, as Nigeria did not do much to trouble the goalkeeper who was never really tested. This gave Iran some confidence as they began to make some inroads in their attacks.
The Iranians had a front foot in early second half as they pressed up field. Nigeria responded by forcing consecutive corners which they fluffed. Despite the general increase in pace in attack after the introduction of Shola Ameobi, Nigerians began to lose concentration cheaply giving away the ball in dangerous positions and getting susceptible to counter-attacks.
It was extremely unbelievable how the Super Eagles gave away possession like Father Christmas. Iran reciprocated the gesture by failing to punish the sloppiness and loss of concentration. The pace in entering the final third dropped for Nigeria again, allowing Iran midfield and defence to regroup and re-organise. The level of anxiety increase as the time lapsed.
Dejagah, who had a fantastic game, had a chance to open the scoring before being substituted. The Nigerian midfield then began to stay back leaving the attackers with no support. Failure to pick up the second ball encouraged Iran to fancy their chances. A goalless draw, the first of the tournament, favoured them as they kept the same point they started with. For the African champions, it was two points lost.