Krakow, Poland, September 4, 2014 - In another thrilling contest at Krakow Arena, France handled Iran their first defeat at FIVB Men's World Championship Pool D, by 3-1 (25-18, 14-25, 25-19, 27-25).
Les Bleus had three equally vital scorers to prevent an Iranian third win - Antonin Rouzier and Earvin Ngapeth hammered 19 points, while Kevin Tillie joined them with 18 of his own. Iran's Shahram Mahmoudi jumped from the bench to provide also 18 tallies for the losing side.
To place ahead from the start was the key for France in the opening set. A six-point streak gave France a 13-8 lead and Tillie carried the torch from then, properly supported by Ngapeth and Rouzier, as the Iranian defence faced too many threats to control them all. Later on, Tillie secured the 25-18 with his eighth point so far.
Iran returned stronger than ever, with Milad Ebadipour and Mahmoudi as fresh players who turned out to be unstoppable on the attack. The Asian team evolved from 6-2 to 16-9 and France had no answer to that. A serve from Adel Gholami enhanced the lead (19-10) and nothing changed until a final 25-14 that created the tie.
Height wasn't a problem for setter Benjamin Toniutti as he blocked twice to enable a French reaction, but the play remained close for a little longer. Iran achieved a slim 14-12, but Rouzier made it disappear and Ngapeth blocked to reverse the lead (17-15). Tillie regained his effectiveness, Nicolas Le Goff contributed with an ace and Rouzier smashed the 25-19.
Things once again were leveled in the next chapter, as both teams quickly exchanged spikes for a while. Mahmoudi gave Iran a distance in 14-11 and the Asians kept going, but Rouzier scored afterwards for a 19-point tie. French opposite nailed a tough ball in the backline, despite a challenge call, and Ngapeth pulled Les Bleus ahead (24-23). Iran dodged that bullet but, in a nail-biting finish, Ngapeth and Tillie kept France together and then Le Roux unfolded the final block in 29-27.
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