Iran loss leaves Wales in danger of World Cup exit

2 months ago 18
Iran celebrate Rouzbeh Cheshmi's goalIran celebrate Rouzbeh Cheshmi's goal

Wales' first World Cup for 64 years looks set to end at the first hurdle after they suffered a heartbreaking - but deserved - last-ditch defeat against Iran in Qatar.

Substitute Rouzbeh Cheshmi struck from 20 yards deep into added time, before Ramin Rezaeian finished off a counter-attack to seal victory for a revitalised Iran side who have renewed hope of reaching the knockout stages for the first time in their history.

As they did in their opening draw with the United States, Wales started poorly and had VAR to thank for disallowing a goal from Iran's Ali Gholizadeh for offside.

In one of the most highly-charged atmospheres of this World Cup, Iran's players sang their anthem this time - having refused to do so before their opening loss to England in an apparent show of support for anti-government protests in their country - but their own fans booed the anthem and some could be seen crying in the stands.

Roared on by the fervent and almost entirely Iranian crowd, Carlos Queiroz's side were extremely unlucky not to score early in the second half as Sardar Azmoun and Gholizadeh both struck the post within the space of a few seconds.

Wales were utterly ragged and, as they pushed forward in search of the late winning goal they desperately needed, a long ball over the top left the defence exposed and their onrushing goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was sent off - after a VAR check - for a reckless challenge on Mehdi Taremi.

That set the seal on Wales' fate for this match and, in all likelihood, their hopes of reaching the second round.

While Robert Page's men were just as disjointed as they were against the USA, Iran were unrecognisable from the team thrashed 6-2 by England in their first match and fully deserved this win which breathes new life into their ambitions of progressing to the last 16.

Wales now face the formidable challenge of needing to win their final group match on Tuesday against England, who take on the United States later on Friday.

It is not impossible but, based on how the Group B teams have fared so far in Qatar, Wales' first World Cup for 64 years looks like it is in serious danger of ending at the earliest stage.

Wayne Hennessey challenges Mehdi TaremiWayne Hennessey's red card was the first at this World Cup

Wales rue another sloppy performance

Having been absent from World Cups since 1958, Wales marked their emotional and long-awaited return to football's grandest stage with a 1-1 draw against the United States at the same stadium on Monday.

They seemed overawed by the magnitude of that occasion during a first half in which they were overrun and outplayed by the USA, but were much improved after the half-time introduction of Kieffer Moore.

The Bournemouth striker started this time and, while his presence gave Wales an added dimension in attack, they were still as worryingly porous in midfield as they had been against the States.

Iran sensed that weakness and pressed their opponents high up the pitch, prompting panic among Welsh midfielders and defenders, particularly on the break.

Despite their vulnerability through the middle, where Page had stuck with the same selection, Wales looked more dangerous when they played with width, and it was Moore who stood to benefit.

Connor Roberts found the 6ft 5in forward with a fine cross from the right in the 13th minute and, although Moore stretched to connect with a volley, it was straight at goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini.

Roberts' next involvement three minutes later was less distinguished as his cross-field pass was cut out near his own penalty area and allowed Sardar Azmoun to tee up Gholizadeh to finish into an empty net. There was no flag at first but, after a swift VAR check, the goal was disallowed for offside.

Azmoun himself headed the next chance over as Wales struggled to get a hold of the game. Fortunately for them, as energetic and well-drilled as Iran were, they did not create much in the way of genuine scoring opportunities.

More to follow.

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Wales

Squad number1Player nameHennessey

Squad number5Player nameMepham

Squad number6Player nameRodon

Squad number4Player nameDavies

Squad number14Player nameRoberts

Squad number10Player nameRamsey

Squad number15Player nameAmpadu

Squad number8Player nameWilson

Squad number3Player nameN Williams

Squad number11Player nameBale

Squad number13Player nameMoore

Squad number7Player nameAllen

Squad number9Player nameJohnson

Squad number12Player nameWard

Squad number20Player nameJames

Iran

Squad number24Player nameHosseini

Squad number23Player nameRezaeian

Squad number19Player nameHosseini

Squad number8Player namePouraliganji

Squad number5Player nameMohammadi

Squad number17Player nameGholizadeh

Squad number6Player nameEzatolahi

Squad number21Player nameNoorollahi

Squad number3Player nameHajisafi

Squad number9Player nameTaremi

Squad number20Player nameAzmoun

Squad number7Player nameJahanbakhsh

Squad number10Player nameAnsarifard

Squad number15Player nameCheshmi

Squad number16Player nameTorabi

Squad number18Player nameKarimi

Line-ups

Wales

Formation 3-5-2

1HennesseyBooked at 86mins5Mepham6RodonBooked at 45mins4Davies14RobertsSubstituted forJohnsonat 57'minutes10RamseySubstituted forWardat 87'minutes15AmpaduSubstituted forAllenat 77'minutes8WilsonSubstituted forJamesat 58'minutes3N Williams11Bale13Moore

Substitutes

2Gunter7Allen9Johnson12Ward16Morrell17Lockyer18Williams19M Harris20James21Davies22Thomas23Levitt24Cabango25Colwill26Smith

Iran

Formation 4-4-1-1

24Hosseini23RezaeianBooked at 90mins19Hosseini8Pouraliganji5Mohammadi17GholizadehSubstituted forJahanbakhshat 77'minutesBooked at 90mins6EzatolahiSubstituted forKarimiat 83'minutes21NoorollahiSubstituted forCheshmiat 78'minutes3HajisafiSubstituted forTorabiat 77'minutes9Taremi20AzmounSubstituted forAnsarifardat 68'minutes

Substitutes

2Moharrami4Khalilzadeh7Jahanbakhsh10Ansarifard11Amiri12Niazmand13Kanani14Ghoddos15Cheshmi16Torabi18Karimi22Abedzadeh25Jalali

Referee:Mario Escobar

Attendance:40,875

Live Text

Match ends, Wales 0, IR Iran 2.

Second Half ends, Wales 0, IR Iran 2.

Goal! Wales 0, IR Iran 2. Ramin Rezaeian (IR Iran) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mehdi Taremi following a fast break.

Goal! Wales 0, IR Iran 1. Roozbeh Cheshmi (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner.

Attempt blocked. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Morteza Pouraliganji.

Attempt blocked. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Mehdi Torabi.

Attempt blocked. Ramin Rezaeian (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Mehdi Taremi.

Attempt missed. Brennan Johnson (Wales) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Neco Williams.

Attempt missed. Neco Williams (Wales) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Chris Mepham (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran).

Ramin Rezaeian (IR Iran) is shown the yellow card.

Dan James (Wales) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Ali Karimi (IR Iran).

Offside, IR Iran. Alireza Jahanbakhsh tries a through ball, but Karim Ansarifard is caught offside.

Kieffer Moore (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Majid Hosseini (IR Iran).

Attempt missed. Mehdi Torabi (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Karim Ansarifard.

Attempt missed. Karim Ansarifard (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mehdi Taremi.

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