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14 June 1998 Group F Saint-Etienne - Stade Geoffrey-Guichard
Yugoslavia Iran
Yugoslavia and Iran, the two sides that only just qualified for France 98 after winning play-off matches against Hungary and Australia respectively, produced as bad a game of football that the World Cup has ever witnessed. Even the deciding goal for the Yugoslavs came courtesy of some dire goalkeeping from Iran's Nima Nakisa from Sinisa Mihajlovic's 73rd-minute free-kick as a 30,392 crowd in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, St Etienne were far from entertained. Yugoslavia and Iran fielded sides that, at least on paper, appeared would ensure an enjoyable attacking game, with flair players like Mijatovic, Stojkovic, Jugovic and Milosevic, whilst the Iranians boasted the best scoring record in qualifying, with 57 goals, of which Karim Bagheri top-scored with 18 of them. With the Yugoslavs starting very cautiously and the Iranians sitting back the game was sadly devoid of goalmouth action with unforced errors from both sides leading to an extremely scrappy opening half an hour. Iran at least started to push men forward in the last ten minutes before the break, but the only noteworthy efforts in a woeful first half came from set-pieces, with Goran Djorovic and Dejan Jankovic going close with headers from corners and Bagheri firing a free-kick straight at Ivica Kralj. After the break the game continued in the same vein as supposed quality international players were incapable of passing the ball to each other and the crowd continued to amuse themselves with the now customary "Mexican wave", which had begun after just 22 minutes. The Yugoslavs introduced a couple of young substitutes in Stankovic and Ognjenovic who provided a little more pace in attack and the breakthrough came as this drab encounter entered it's final 20 minutes. Mihajlovic lined up his third free-kick in an eight-minute spell and after the first couple of sighters, this time he found the target, striking a left-footed curler into the space occupied by Nakisa who had anticipated a shot over the wall. The goal spurred Iran into action and Daei had a great chance to equalise but failed to get enough power into a downward header, before the referee put everyone out of their misery by blowing the final whistle. Yugoslavia will be delighted with the three points from this Group F clash after a below-par performance in one of the most instantly forgettable matches in World Cup history.

(1-0) Mihajlovic (73). He lined up a free-kick from 25-yards and struck a curling left-footed shot around the wall towards the left-hand side of the goal, but with Nakisa anticipating an effort over the wall, the ball ended up in the back of the net with the 'keeper flat-footed.

 
 
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