A couple of blunders by the Iranian players saw the Asian powerhouse suffer a 2-1 defeat in a pre-World Cup friendly against Algeria in Doha, Qatar.
Algerian striker Riad Benayad was first to the ball on a misjudged back pass by Iranian skipper Alireza Jahanbakhsh and then kept his cool in a one-on-one situation before his low effort went in through Amir Abedzadeh’s legs late in the first half.
A much-improved display by Dragan Skocic’s men paid off after the break as Jahanbakhsh made up for his mistake in the 64th minute, tapping into the top corner from an Omid Nour-Afkan’s cross.
Algeria restored the one-goal cushion with eight minutes left on the clock through substitute Mohamed Amoura.
An ill-fated clearance by Nour-Afkan was intercepted by Youcef Belaili, whose deflected shot from the edge of box fell into Amoura’s legs before FC Lugano winger put the ball past the Iranian keeper.
The starting eleven fielded by Skocic will probably be the same that will kick off Iran’s World Cup campaign against England on November 21, except for the defensive duo as Shoja Khalilzadeh and Hossein Kan’anizadegan – teammates at Qatari club Al Ahli SC – will likely be Croatian’s first-choice center-backs in the showdown in Qatar.
Iran will also take on Wales and USA in Group B of the finals.