Iran penalizes Wales in stoppage time
Iran ignored the distractions that have dogged the team since they landed in Qatar to get him their World Cup campaign is underway as they gathered towards beat a sloppy Wales 0-2 on Friday, giving himself away a chance to qualify for the knockout stage.
Iran were trounced 6-2 by England in their Group B opener, but those two goals against the top of the table gave them confidence that they could compete with the 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 in 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.
Leading strikers Sardar Azmun and Mehdi Taremi both ply their trade in Europe and Queiroz, who opted for just one striker against England, paired them up front to keep the Welsh defense pinned back and on their toes throughout the game. Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Bejranvand missed the game after suffering concussion and a broken nose against England and his replacement Syed Hossain Hosseini was very much up to the task against Wells despite shipping six goals in the opener.
Cage starter saw Iran exploited gaps in Wales’ midfield who had the numerical advantage but lacked discipline and was easily overrun when both Aaron Ramsey and Ethan Ampadu pour forth. Iran delivered 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 their effort to be sent off for offside.
After a scoreless first half, it was barely a few minutes into the second period when Iran burst into life as Azmoun and Ali Golizade hit the woodwork within seconds of each other, while Said Ezatolahi also had a try saved. It sowed panic in the Welsh side who were visibly tiring in the heat and it came to a head when Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy charged outside the box and took out Taremi with a high knee, because he received a red card for his troubles. The send-off opened the game for Iran who burst forward with renewed vigor and, with nine minutes of stoppage time added on, they plagued Wales with a deadly one-two punch to leave the Welsh fans in the stands in tears.
Ruzbeh Cheshmi opened the scoring with a sublime long-range shot that had the substitute keeper Danny Ward tussle before Ramin Rezaian doubled their lead with a neat chip on another counter attack where they were outnumbered by their Welsh counterparts.