Portugal became the latest team to have qualified for the second round of the World Cup after just two matches on Saturday afternoon by defeating Iran 2-0 in Frankfurt. A beautiful drive by Deco in the 63rd minute and a penalty pounded home by Ronaldo after a foul on Figo in the box provided the winning margin.
The victory was well-earned. Despite the scoreless first half, Portugal dominated play with numerous excellent chances -- many of them created by the excellent midfield play of Man of the Match Figo. Iranian keeper Ebrahim Mirzapour managed a number of acrobatic saves, but barely flinched on Deco's pinpoint cannon -- set up by Figo -- from outside the area just inside the post.
"This is a historic moment for Portugal, the first time in 40 years it has come so far," said Portugal's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari after the match. "We're elated. We played better than against Angola. We showed some of our skill today."
The victory puts Portugal on the cusp of winning Group D, setting them up for a difficult round of 16 clash against either Holland or Argentina, both of which have demonstrated excellent form so far in the tournament. The Portuguese have made it out of their group at a World Cup for the first time in four decades.
In the 80th minute, Figo was tripped up by Yahya Golmohammadi as he ventured into the Iranian box, resulting in a penalty call by referee Poulat. Ronaldo calmly drove the ball into the upper left corner.
Prior to taking the penalty, Ronaldo had created a number of excellent chances for himself. His weak header in the 34th minute off a Figo corner was stopped by the chest of Hossein Kaabi on the line. Seconds later, his drive close in on the right side flew just past the post into the side of the net past a diving Mirzapour. As during Portugal's first game, though, the Manchester United star once again seemed unwilling to pass to his team mates up front, preferring to go it alone.
Had the match ended in a draw, it would have been difficult not to hand man of the match honors to the Iranian keeper Mirzapour. His reflex save on a Deco shot from close in early in the match protected the scoreless draw. Just before half, he went down to deflect a shot by Miguel. The ball bounced under the keeper but dribbled harmlessly wide of the goal.
In the 55th minute, Mirzapour once again made an acrobatic save on a shot by Ronaldo.
Iran had a few chances of its own. A free kick from the left side finally forced Portuguese keeper Ricardo into action in the 24th minute. In the second half, Mehrzad Madanchi controlled a long pass down the left side, but could only managed a weak shot across the front of goal.
With Figo in such excellent form, the Portuguese must be heaving a sigh of relief after a dangerous challenge left him mostly unscathed in the 36th minute. Kaabi, in a challenge referred to as a "kung-fu attack" by the halftime moderators, brushed Figo's cheek with his cleats, leaving a bloody scrape. The referee apparently didn't see the foul and Kaabi got away without seeing yellow or even red.
With the loss, Iran will be heading home -- and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad staying home -- after a disappointing first round. Mexico is up next for Portugal.
"We still want to beat Mexico to ensure first place in the group," Scolari said.