Iran Beats USA in 1998 on This Day
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Yet 19 years ago to this day, on June 21, 1998, the Islamic Republic of Iran defeated USA 2-1 in the World Cup.
Team Melli went head-to-head with the USA for the first time ever in a match that carried arguably as much significance as any during the four-week competition, the-afc.com wrote.
Having first appeared at the FIFA World Cup in 1978 in Argentina, Iran would have to wait a further 20 years to progress to the tournament again – and they did so the hard way.
After coming second to Saudi Arabia in their qualifying group, the Iranians then lost 3-2 after extra-time to Japan in the continental play-off to leave them facing a two-legged encounter with Australia for the right to advance to the competition.
A 1-1 draw in the first leg at Azadi Stadium in front of well over 100,000 spectators was then followed by a 2-2 scoreline in Melbourne as Iran secured their place on away goals.
And as fate would have it, a match billed as the most politically charged in World Cup history and described as “the mother of all games” by the US Soccer Federation would take place in Lyon as Iran was paired with the USA in Group F alongside powerhouses Germany and Yugoslavia.
Just under 40,000 turned out for the crunch encounter at Stade de Gerland to witness Hamid Estili give the Iranians the lead five minutes before the interval with a superb header from 15 meters after being picked out by Javad Zarincheh from the right.
Then, with 10 minutes to play, Iran’s all-time leading scorer Daei slotted through to a surging Mehdi Mahdavikia, who kept his cool to toe-poke past Kasey Keller in the American goal and spark joyous celebrations among Iranian players and fans.
Brian McBride pulled a goal back with three minutes to play to ensure a nervy finish but Iran managed to hold on to wrap up their first and to date only World Cup win and, in turn, eliminate the USA after just two games.