In the early passages of play, Nigeria had shown menace, with much of its attacking thrust coming down the left with Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses combining to cause problems for the defensively-minded Iran side.
Nigeria came closest to scoring in the seventh minute when an Ahmed Musa goal was disallowed after John Obi Mikel was adjudged to have fouled Iran goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi at a corner.
Iran grew more confident as the game progressed and came close to scoring in the 34th when a Reza Ghoochannejhad header required a sharp save from Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
In the second half, both sides were guilty of sloppy passages of play, to the growing annoyance of the mainly Brazilian crowd. Players from both sides snatched at chances, and neither goalkeeper was troubled despite some frantic late pressure in the final minutes.
“They had 11 people behind the ball, which made it hard for us to create chances,” Mikel said. “It’s frustrating because they sat back.”