Iran's early pressure earns 3-2 win over Costa Rica
TEHRAN, March 1 (Reuters) Iran outclassed fellow World Cup qualifiers Costa Rica in the first half of a friendly today before being forced to fight hard to secure a 3-2 win.
Iran's early waves of attack paid dividends in the ninth minute when Bayern Munich's Ali Karimi sidestepped his marker and slid the ball under Costa Rica keeper Alvaro Mesen.
Veteran striker Ali Daei, international football's leading goalscorer, added to his tally in the 16th minute, thumping home a cross from Hanover 96's Vahid Hashemian from close range.
Mesen fumbled a scorching 25-yard shot from Daei in the 34th minute and Hashemian toed the loose ball into the net for 3-0.
Moments later Mesen fluffed a catch from a Karimi free-kick and almost gifted Iran a fourth.
Carlos Hernandez offered Costa Rica hope just before halftime, rifling a ball from the edge of the penalty area past Iranian keeper Ebrahim Mirzapour.
A more focused Costa Rica looked far more dangerous in the second half and the game picked up momentum in the 60th minute when Dany Fonseca looped a header over Mirzapour.
Costa Rica fired twice over the Iranian bar in the last five minutes but were unable to salvage an equaliser.
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