The painful reality of life at the sharp end of international football hit the Iranian team with a vengeance on Sunday. For 73 minutes of their absorbing battle with Yugoslavia at Stade Geoffroy Guichard, Iran dared to dream of taking a share of the points. One fateful slip, however, and their dreams lay in tatters. The slip in question came from stand-in goalkeeper Nima Nakisa, who was caught out of position as Sinisa Mihajlovic's free-kick flew in from 25 yards. Nakisa, an excitable, bubbly character, attempted to mask his disappointment following the match. But once away from the television cameras his private pain was palpable. 'I feel terrible,' he grimaced. 'It was just one of those bad mistakes . . . if I had been standing maybe this far [he indicates six inches] to my right I would have saved it. I feel badly for my teammates because it was my fault and mine alone. 'As a goalkeeper you are under more pressure than the other players. If you make only one mistake it can often cost you the game . . . other players can make maybe three or four mistakes in a match and the team can still win. All I want to do now is just go away and sit down somewhere by myself.' It would have been understandable if Iran's bitterly disappointed players had chosen to shun Nakisa. Commendably, they chose instead to offer comfort. Sweeper Mohammad Khakpour refused point blank to blame Nakisa. 'He is a young 'keeper and he knows he probably would have saved it on another day but we can't blame him for losing because football is a team sport, something that people forget. 'If you blame Nakisa, then you should blame the person who gave the free-kick away or the person who didn't score a goal - you can blame everybody for everything if you want but that is not the way we do things. It is just so disappointing for everyone but we still have two matches left and we have to put this behind us,' Khakpour said. Jalal Talebi, Iran's coach, was downcast in defeat. 'We have to be disappointed at conceding a goal from a set-piece. This is very shameful for us but we are happy with our overall performance. 'We know we have two very hard games against America and Germany coming up but we are going to fight until the death. We will fight as long as we are standing.' As Talebi and his players departed St Etienne, along with an estimated 20,000 Iranian fans, Yugoslavia's coach Slobodan Santrac was holding court with a crowd of journalists. 'I told my players that Iran were a very good team. They obviously did not believe me . . . we were lucky today,' he said.