Iran punish Wales in added time
Iran ignore the distractions that have dogged the team since they landed in Qatar to get their World Cup campaign is underway as they gathered to beat sloppy Wales 0-2 on Friday, giving of himself a chance to reach the knockout phase.
Iran were beaten 6-2 by England at the start of Group B, but those two goals against the leaders gave them the confidence to 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 in five previous World Cups but Carlos Queiroz’s men will now fancy their chances after an impressive performance 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 had only picked one striker against England, paired them up front to keep Wales’ defense steady and on their toes throughout the match. Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand missed the match after suffering concussion and a broken nose against England and his replacement Seyyed Hossein Hosseini coped very well with the task against Wales despite shipping six goals in the opener.
A smart saw to boot Iran took advantage of gaps in Wales’ midfield who had a numerical advantage but lacked discipline and was easily overwhelmed when both Aaron Ramsey and Ethan Ampadu poured forth. Iran fired their first warning shot when they kept the ball in the net in the first half against the run of play when they pounced after a poor pass, only for the effort to be convicted of an ambush.
After a scoreless first half, it was only minutes into the second half when Iran burst into life Azmoun and Ali Golizadeh hit the frame within seconds of each other while Saeid Ezatolahi also had a try saved. This sent panic into the Welsh side, who were visibly tiring in the heat and came to a head when goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy burst in from the penalty area and took out Taremi with a high knee, as he received a red card for his troubles. The dismissal opened the game for Iran who surged forward with renewed vigor and with nine minutes added to stoppage time they hit Wales with a deadly one-two punch to leave the Welsh fans in the stands in tears.
Rozbeh Cesmi opened the scoring with a great long-range shot that had the keeper on standby Danny Ward shuffling before Ramin Rezayan doubled the lead with a clear chip on another counter-attack where they outnumbered their Welsh counterparts.