Wales hopes of reaching the knockout stage of their first World Cup in 64 years suffered a major blow as Robert Page’s side was beaten 2-0 by Iran’s late, late show. The Dragons were aiming to build upon the 1-1 stalemate with the USA first time out, but struggled to get on top against a much-improved Iran side and saw goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey sent off four minutes from time for a wild foul.
Kieffer Moore had Wales’ best opening of the first period, but he could only volley straight at Hossein Hosseini on 12 minutes. Iran thought they had taken the lead five minutes later, but Ali Gholizadeh’s goal was chalked off by VAR. Carlos Queiroz’s side continued to look the more likely following the interval and Sardar Azmoun and Gholizadeh both hit the woodwork in quick succession as the Wales goal lived a charmed life. Hennessey was then forced to produce heroics before he saw a yellow card correctly upgraded to a red following intervention by VAR. The Wales keeper clattered into Mehdi Taremi way outside his penalty area as the forward looked to surge clear.
This is a must win game for both sides to stay in the race, but Iran proved they were worthy of the victory. Wales were better throughout and with a tad more fortune would have been ahead much sooner in the contest. Wales’ big-name, but aging, stars simply couldn’t get into the game with the likes of Gareth Bale who became his country’s most capped player on the day and Aaron Ramsey failing to make any impact. ‘Yma o hyd, Yma o Hyd is the chant that Wales is ‘still here but they will need something incredibly special to qualify from Group B and remain in Qatar beyond the middle of next week.
Ramin Rezaeian (IRAN) remains the defender capped a powerhouse display with a magnificently taken second goal to rubber-stamp an excellent day for his country.
Some of the things to know after the match are:
1. Wales has conceded more than 1 goal for the first time in their history.
2. Wales have now gone 7 games without a victory in all competition for the first since 2003
3. Iran have scored 4 goals in this competition. This is twice as many goals they’ve scored in the previous edition of the World Cup