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Mexico's late bursts sink Iran

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Dual strike by Omar Bravo; star striker Borgetti suffers a thigh injury

NUREMBERG: Iran seemed content to play for one point. So Mexico took all three.

Mexico broke through Iran's defence late in the second half, scoring twice in the final 15 minutes for a 3-1 victory in the teams' Group D opener on Sunday.

Omar Bravo's second goal of the match in the 76th minute put Mexico up 2-1. Three minutes later, two second-half substitutions hooked up for the clincher when Zinha headed in Francisco Fonseca's cross.

After trading goals in the first half, Iran dropped as many as five defenders back from the 60th minute. The strategy worked until defender Yahya Golmohammedi, who scored the equaliser in the 36th minute, made a bad pass.

Zinha fed the ball up the middle to Bravo, who beat goalkeeper Ebrahim Mirzapour for the go-ahead goal. Mirzapour's poor clearing kick set up the scoring sequence for the Mexicans.

Mexico's set pieces failed to come together early in the match, but paid off in the 28th minute after a foul by Iran's Ali Karimi.

Pavel Pardo's free-kick from the right side found Guillermo Franco in the box. Franco cleverly headed the ball to Bravo lurking virtually unmarked near the back goalpost. He gave it a right-footed tap past forward Vashid Hashemian and Mirzapour for a 1-0 lead.

Equaliser

Iran's equaliser was a bit of opportunism by Golmohammedi. Mexico goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez could only deflect Hashemian's header off Karimi's corner kick, and Golmohammedi took the ball at the top of the area and fired it into the roof of the net.

Sanchez, who flew to Mexico on Thursday for his father's funeral and rejoined the team on Saturday night in Nuremberg, was tested early when he had to dive to his left to stop Hashemian's header in the 11th minute.

Before Iran sat back on defence, both teams missed several chances in a scrappy game.

Mexico, running a three-forward attack in the first half with Bravo, Franco and Jared Borgetti, was sloppy in its passing at both ends of the field. But the defence, led by FC Barcelona's Rafael Marquez, was able to keep Iran from capitalising on the lapses in the defensive end.

Marquez, the team's captain, donned more of an attacking role after the break.

Mexico coach Ricardo Lavolpe went back to a conventional 4-4-2 to start the second half, substituting midfielder Zinha for Franco and replacing midfielder Gerardo Torrado who drew a yellow card in the first half for a foul on Andranik Teymourian with Luis Perez.

Mexico had to use its third substitution in the 52nd minute, when Borgetti came out and was replaced by Fonseca.

Borgetti, who led the World with 14 goals in World Cup qualifying and is Mexico's top career scorer with 38 international goals, was limping when he came off and had his left thigh briefly examined by the team's trainers. AP

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