Wales’ hopes of qualifying from Group B of the World Cup took an almighty dent in a dramatic 2-0 defeat to Iran on Friday morning.
The Dragons entered the match at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium knowing a win would have put them atop Group B before England’s showdown against the United States later this evening — but it was Iran who came away with maximum reward to bridge the gap on The Three Lions.
Carlos Queiroz’s side were not deterred from that early frustration, and after the restart they came out with the bit between their teeth, peppering the Wales goal with several gilt-edged opportunities, before finally finding a breakthrough in the dying embers of the match.
An extraordinary 10 seconds just after the break saw Sardar Azmoun and Ali Gholizadeh strike both of Wales’ posts, before the former missed an absolute sitter from the rebound. Queiroz must have been thinking that his side would go on to rue those missed chances.
Iran have now hit the woodwork more times (3) than any other team at the 2022 World Cup.
Racking them up against Wales. 💥#FIFAWorldCup
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) November 25, 2022
Wales probed in what was a milestone occasion for Gareth Bale, who was making his 110th appearance to become the nation’s most-capped player of all time, but their attacking efforts failed to yield any clean opportunities; it was Iran who were the more menacing of the two nations.
And a pivotal moment finally came in the 86th minute. A launched ball forward by Iran saw Wayne Hennessey come careering off his line before scything Mehdi Taremi to the ground. It looked a blatant red card, but it took intervention from VAR before the correct decision was made.
With the numerical advantage, Iran kept up their pressure on the Wales goal, and they eventually found the breakthrough via an unlikely source. Rouzbeh Cheshmi, striking from range in the 98th minute, found the corner past substitute Danny Ward to send the Iran fans into raptures, and break Wales hearts.
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Incredibly, it was the first strike from outside the box at the World Cup; coming in a match that also saw the first red card. Taremi — who bagged a brace against England — then turned provider, teeing up Ramin Rezaeian late on to put the gloss on an emphatic win.
Taremi was once again brilliant for Iran. His eight chances created is the most in a single World Cup game across the last two tournaments, beating the likes of Mesut Ozil, Neymar and Kieran Trippier. England felt his wrath on Monday, and now Wales have too. Watch out USA, he is lighting up the World Cup.
Most chances created in a single World Cup game across the last two tournaments:
◉ 8 – Mehdi Taremi vs. Wales
◎ 7 – Mesut Özil vs. South Korea
◎ 7 – Neymar vs. Belgium
◎ 7 – Kieran Trippier vs. Belgium
— Squawka (@Squawka) November 25, 2022