Osaka, Japan, November 19, 2009: Defending champions Brazil had to work hard before beating Iran 3-1 in the first match of the second day of the FIVB Men’s World Grand Champions Cup on Thursday. The world champions eventually came home 25-22, 25-18, 23-25, 25-19 to extend their win-loss record to 2-0, while dropping Iran to 1-1.
Iran emerged with great credit, however, and had the satisfaction of taking one set off the world number one the day after beating Egypt 3-2.
Brazil started the match without their inspirational captain Giba, who was given a rest in the corner of the court. But there was still plenty of experience out there in Rodrigao and Murilo, and Brazil did just enough to lead 8-7 at the first TTO. On the other side, Arash Keshavarzi showed his blocking skills on Murilo, and Hamzeh Zarini blasted through the Brazil block to give Iran early confidence. Brazilian setter Bruno was having trouble connecting with Thiago out on the left flank, but found a more productive route down the middle through Sidao, who helped his team lead 16-14 at the second TTO. A Mousavi block on Thiago brought Iran level 18-18, but coach Hossein Madani called a TO on losing the next three points. The break disturbed Brazil, and when Murilo fired long, coach Bernardinho took his players off for a TO at 22-22. They returned to finish it 25-22 through Thiago, after a great serve and dig by Murilo – the team’s natural leader in the absence of Giba.
The blocking of Mousavi and Nadi, and the powerful serving of Mohammad Kazem, enabled Iran to lead 6-3 in the second set. Thiago tried to step up the pace for Brazil with some athletic jumping and spiking, but the world champions still trailed 8-6 at the first TTO. As the set progressed, Mohammad Kazem rocked the Brazilian defence with some thundering attacks, and also blocked Vissotto, and Zarini continued to break wide through out with some flashing spikes. Brazil always had enough in the tank to stay on top, and when Rodrigao blocked Andalib for 19-15, Iran took a TO as the set slipped away. Brazil clinched it 25-18 for 2-0.
In the third set, Brazil led 8-7 at the first TTO, with Vissotto showing his blocking skills as well as his elegant attacks out wide. The same player added a service ace for 10-7, at which point Iran took a TO. Brazil were struggling for motivation and were unable to accelerate to finish the job as Iran pulled level at 13-13 with a Zarini fireball serve. Leading 16-14 at the second TTO, Brazil were pegged back to 18-18 by an Iranian team with a fresh injection of points in Kamalvand and Gholami. With nothing to lose, the Iranians were really enjoying the experience and swinging lustily to give Brazil too many awkward moments for their liking. Trailing 23-21 after a Kazem cracker on the right, Brazil called a TO in the hope of turning things round without the need for a fourth set. They could not save it, though, and Vissotto served into the net to hand Iran the third set 25-23 on their second set point.
There were signs that the Brazilians were finally getting their serve together in the fourth set, a part of their game that had been infuriating coach Bernardinho. Brazil led 8-6 at the first TTO, and a Thiago block on Kazem made it 11-7. Mousavi responded with a block on Rodrigao as Iran stayed in touch, and when the gap was down to one at 12-11, Brazil called a TO. Murilo responded with two magnificent spikes to send Brazil into the second TTO ahead 16-12. The end was in sight as Brazil stayed focused and Iran lacked their earlier fire and consistency. It wasn't long before the defending champions closed it 25-19 with Murilo leading the way.