TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran won European champions Serbia in an astonishing five-set match (25-17, 18-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-11) on the third day of the first-round action in the 2011 FIVB Men's World Cup at "Nippongaishi" sports hall on Tuesday afternoon.
The victory gave Iran a 2-1 mark in the tournament, while European champions Serbia slumped to 0-3. Mehdi Bazargarde (17 points) and Mohammad Mousavi (14 points) led a balanced scoring attack for Iran, which played a fine all-around game under the direction of coach Julio Velasco. Ivan Miljkovic was the focal point for Serbia, scoring a match-high 22 points. Dragan Stankovic and Marko Podrascanin added 14 each. Pourya Fayazi was named the most impressive player of the match.
The final set was tight as expected. A Podrascanin spike tied the score 6-6 and he followed that with a service ace. Miljkovic responded with a spike to make it 7-7 and Serbia was on top 8-7 at the TTO. A beautiful dink by Stankovic made it 9-8 for Serbia. Iran fought back and took a 10-9 lead on a block by Alireza Nadi then went up 11-9 when Serbia touched a ball that appeared headed out. A spike by Bazargarde put Iran up 13-9 and Serbia then called a timeout. Iran clinched the match 15-11 on a spike by Fayazi.
Iran coach Julio Velasco commented after the game, "We are very happy with this victory. Not only because we beat the European champions, but because they were one of the teams I showed to my team this summer as a model. Our players learned from them how to win the long points. Serbia didn't play its best. I told the players if we have a chance in this match, we have to take it."
Serbia coach Igor Kolakovic singled out, "It is tough to say anything after our third straight loss. We our disappointed. We had no energy or feeling. It's a bad day. We had one month to prepare for the European Championships, but only 7 days for this World Cup and many injured players."
Iran captain Alireza Nadi said, "Serbia is a very good team. I was confident we would play better than yesterday (when they lost to Cuba) and we beat the European champions."
Serbia captain and top scorer Ivan Miljkovic concluded, "It was a difficult game. Iran played well and showed the will. We can play at a higher level, but it will be tough to come back at this event. We expected to see a team that defended well. They are getting better in the last 3-4 years. They have a real chance against the better teams now." ?