The tone has now been set for Group B at the 2022 World Cup, with expected front-runners England naturally leading the charge, while Wales, Iran and the United States battle it out to keep pace with Gareth Southgate’s men. On Friday, Wales and Iran will slog it out to try and consolidate a coveted qualification spot.
The Dragons, embarking on their first World Cup since 1958, required late drama to salvage a point against the United States in their Qatar opener. After Timothy Weah broke the deadlock in the first half, Wales’ man-of-the-moment Gareth Bale won and converted a penalty to restore parity in the final 10 minutes.
That stalemate has worked in Iran’s favour as they were ripped open by England 6-2 in their curtain-raiser. Just one point now separates Carlos Queiroz’s men in dead last from Wales in second, giving this group a fascinatingly-claustrophobic complexion as we approach matchday two on Friday.
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Wales were very underwhelming in the first half against USA, but they came alive after the restart and clinched a deserved point in the end. In fact, Rob Page’s men created two Big Chances which, as it stands, is the six-most created by any nation at the World Cup so far. Iran, though, will be buoyed by their two goals against England. They were never in the contest, but Mehdi Taremi’s brace means only Spain (seven) England (six), France (four) and Portugal (three) have netted more than Iran so far. That will give Queiroz confidence.
18 Apr 1978 – Iran 0-1 Wales – International Friendly
These nations have actually met once before, but it came 44 years ago in an international friendly. Then managed by Mike Smith, Philip Dwyer got the only goal of the game to seal a 1-0 win for The Dragons.