Iran punish Wales in stoppage time
Iran ignored the distractions that had shadowed the team since they landed in Qatar to catch up their World Cup campaign has kicked off how they gathered beat sloppy Wales 0-2 on Friday, giving himself possibility of reaching the knockout stage.
Iran were beaten 6-2 by England in their Group B opener but those two goals against the table-toppers gave them the confidence that they could compete with European sides as they arrived at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium with a point to prove. The Asian team has never made it past the group stage at five previous World Cups but Carlos Queiroz’s men will now fancy their chances after an impressive display as they punished a Welsh side who were reduced to 10 men late in the second half.
Main strikers Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi both ply their trade in Europe and Queiroz, who picked just one forward against England, paired them up front to keep the Welsh defense tied back and on their toes throughout the game. Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand missed the game after suffering concussion and a broken nose against England and his replacement Seyed Hossein Hosseini was very up to the task against wales despite shipping six goals in the opener.
Cage starter saw Iran exploit gaps in Wales’ midfield that had a numerical advantage but lacked discipline and was easily overrun when both Aaron Ramsey and Ethan Ampadu poured forth. Iran fired their first warning shot when they had the ball in the net in the opening half against the run of play when they pounced on a weak pass, only for the effort to be. ruled out for offside.
After a goalless first half, it was barely minutes into the second period when Iran burst into life as Azmoun and Ali Gholizadeh hit the woodwork within seconds of each other while Saeid Ezatolahi also had a try saved. That sowed panic in the Welsh side, who were visibly tired from the heat and came to a head when goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey charged out of his box and picked out Taremi with a high knee, because he got a red card for his troubles. The sending off opened the game for Iran who burst forward with renewed vigor and, with nine minutes of stoppage time added, they brought Wales down by a deadly one-two punch leaving the Welsh fans in the stands in tears.
Roozbeh Cheshmi opened the scoring with a sublime long-range strike that had a substitute guard Danny Ward spitting before Ramin Rezaeian doubled the lead with a neat chip on another counter attack where they outnumbered their Welsh counterparts.