Wales’ first World Cup for 64 years seems to be set to finish on the first hurdle after a heartbreaking – however deserved – last-ditch defeat by Iran in Qatar.
Substitute Rouzbeh Cheshmi struck from 20 yards 9 minutes into stoppage time, earlier than Ramin Rezaeian completed off a counter-attack to seal victory for a revitalised Iran facet, who’ve renewed hope of reaching the knockout phases for the primary time of their historical past.
Wales had been dealt a heavy blow with 4 minutes of regular time left when goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was despatched off, following a video assistant referee test, for a reckless problem on Medhi Taremi.
As they did of their opening draw with the United States, Wales began poorly and had the video assistant referee (VAR) to thank for disallowing a purpose from Iran’s Ali Gholizadeh for offside.
In one of the vital extremely charged atmospheres of this World Cup, Iran’s gamers sang their nationwide anthem this time – having declined to take action earlier than their opening loss to England in an obvious present of help for anti-government protests of their nation – however their very own followers booed the anthem and a few might be seen crying within the stands.
Roared on by the fervent and virtually solely Iranian crowd, Carlos Queiroz’s facet had been extraordinarily unfortunate to not rating early within the second half as Sardar Azmoun and Gholizadeh each struck the put up inside the house of some seconds.
Wales had been completely ragged and, as they pushed ahead in quest of the late successful purpose they desperately wanted, a protracted ball excessive left the defence uncovered and the onrushing Hennessey introduced down Taremi.
Hennessey was initially proven a yellow card, nevertheless it was modified to a pink after the referee was suggested to test on the pitchside monitor, with the 35-year-old turning into solely the third keeper to be despatched off at a World Cup.
That set the seal on Wales’ destiny for this match and, in all probability, their hopes of reaching the second spherical.
While Robert Page’s males had been simply as disjointed as they had been towards the USA, Iran had been unrecognisable from the workforce thrashed 6-2 by England of their first match and totally deserved this win.
Wales now face the formidable problem of needing to win their ultimate group match on Tuesday towards England, who tackle the United States in a while Friday.
It is just not unimaginable however, primarily based on how the Group B groups have fared up to now in Qatar, Wales’ first World Cup for 64 years seems to be like it’s in critical hazard of ending on the earliest stage.
Wales rue one other sloppy efficiency
Having been absent from World Cups since 1958, Wales marked their emotional and long-awaited return to soccer’s grandest stage with a 1-1 draw towards the United States on the similar stadium on Monday.
They appeared overawed by the magnitude of that event throughout a primary half through which they had been overrun and outplayed by the USA, however had been a lot improved after the half-time introduction of Kieffer Moore.
The Bournemouth striker began this time and, whereas his presence gave Wales an added dimension in assault, they had been nonetheless as worryingly porous in midfield as they’d been towards the States.
Iran sensed that weak point and pressed their opponents excessive up the pitch, prompting panic amongst Welsh midfielders and defenders, significantly on the break.
Despite their vulnerability by means of the center, the place Page had caught with the identical choice, Wales regarded extra harmful after they performed with width, and it was Moore who stood to learn.
Connor Roberts discovered the 6ft 5in ahead with a superb cross from the best within the thirteenth minute and, though Moore stretched to attach with a volley, it was straight at goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini.
Roberts’ subsequent involvement three minutes later was much less distinguished as his cross-field move was lower out close to his personal penalty space and allowed Sardar Azmoun to tee up Gholizadeh to complete into an empty internet. There was no flag at first however, after a swift VAR test, the purpose was disallowed for offside.
Azmoun himself headed the subsequent probability over as Wales struggled to come up with the sport. Fortunately for them, as energetic and well-drilled as Iran had been, they didn’t create a lot in the best way of real scoring alternatives.
Wales sluggish to make modifications
Despite the clear points his facet confronted within the first half, Page made no modifications at half-time.
Just as his lack of ability to heed the teachings from the USA sport invited Iranian strain within the first half, Page’s inaction on this event pressured Wales on to the again foot throughout the second half.
They had been extraordinarily lucky to not fall behind 5 minutes after the restart as Iran hit the put up twice within the house of some seconds.
First Azmoun struck a right-footed effort which cannoned off the woodwork and fell to Gholizadeh, whose curling left-footed shot hit the opposite put up. Azmoun was the primary to react however his rebound was smothered by Hennessey.
Wales had been a large number at this level, their defence harassed and given subsequent to no safety from the gamers in entrance of them.
Those struggles made it unimaginable to assault with any cohesion, rendering Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey virtually out of date.
It was a dispiriting sight for Wales followers to look at these two greats – heroes of the previous two European Championships – decreased to peripheral figures on this event.
Wales nonetheless threw themselves ahead within the imprecise hope of forcing a late winner however that desperation was their undoing when Hennessey grew to become simply the third goalkeeper to be despatched off at a World Cup, for a excessive boot on Taremi.
The day belonged to Iran, who left it late to safe the victory they hard-earned.
Given an excessive amount of time by Wales’ tiring our bodies, Cheshmi unleasehd an outstanding strike from 20 yards which whistled into the underside nook to immediate wild celebrations.
Then with Wales much more uncovered, it was left to Rezaeian to use a fragile of completion as Iran surged to victory, realizing one other towards the USA will safe their passage to the second spherical for the primary time of their historical past.
- 1HennesseyBooked at 86mins
- 6RodonBooked at 45mins
- 14RobertsSubstituted forJohnsonat 57′minutes
- 10RamseySubstituted forWardat 87′minutes
- 15AmpaduSubstituted forAllenat 77′minutes
- 8WilsonSubstituted forJamesat 58′minutes
- 3N Williams
- 19M Harris
- 23RezaeianBooked at 90mins
- 17GholizadehSubstituted forJahanbakhshat 77′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 6EzatolahiSubstituted forKarimiat 83′minutes
- 21NoorollahiSubstituted forCheshmiat 78′minutes
- 3HajisafiSubstituted forTorabiat 77′minutes
- 20AzmounSubstituted forAnsarifardat 68′minutes
- Mario Escobar
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) proper footed shot from the centre of the field to the centre of the purpose. Assisted by Mehdi Taremi following a quick break.
Goal! Wales 0, IR Iran 1. Roozbeh Cheshmi (IR Iran) proper footed shot from outdoors the field to the underside proper nook.
Attempt blocked. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran) proper footed shot from outdoors the field is blocked. Assisted by Morteza Pouraliganji.
Attempt blocked. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran) proper footed shot from outdoors the field is blocked. Assisted by Mehdi Torabi.
Attempt blocked. Ramin Rezaeian (IR Iran) proper footed shot from outdoors the field is blocked. Assisted by Mehdi Taremi.
Attempt missed. Brennan Johnson (Wales) proper footed shot from a troublesome angle on the best is shut, however misses to the best. Assisted by Neco Williams.
Attempt missed. Neco Williams (Wales) proper footed shot from outdoors the field misses to the best.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran) is proven the yellow card for a foul foul.
Chris Mepham (Wales) wins a free kick within the defensive half.
Foul by Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran).
Ramin Rezaeian (IR Iran) is proven 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 by means of ball, however Karim Ansarifard is caught offside.
Kieffer Moore (Wales) wins a free kick within the defensive half.
Foul by Majid Hosseini (IR Iran).
Attempt missed. Mehdi Torabi (IR Iran) proper footed shot from outdoors the field is excessive and large to the best. Assisted by Karim Ansarifard.
Attempt missed. Karim Ansarifard (IR Iran) proper footed shot from outdoors the field misses to the left. Assisted by Mehdi Taremi.
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