Iran leave it late against 10-man Wales | Football News – SportsMediaz

For ninety minutes of regulation time and seven minutes of stoppage time, there were no goals. And then there were two. Iran scored twice in the space of three additional minutes to notch up a 2-0 victory against Wales in their FIFA World Cup Group B clash at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan on Friday. Substitute Rouzbeh Cheshmi and right-back Ramin Rezaeian found the net for the Iranians. The game would have perhaps ended goalless if not for Welsh goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey’s sending-off in the 86th minute.

Hennessey was off his line when an Iran player released a long ball from his own half in search of a quick breakaway. Confident that he will get to it first, Hennessey continued sprinting towards the ball and out of the 18-yard box, not realizing that Mehdi Taremi was going to beat him to it. That’s what the Iranian forward did, subsequently drawing a chest-high, no-holds-barred tackle from the Welsh custodian that sent the 30-year-old to the ground.

The referee immediately brought out a yellow card for Hennessey even as the Iran players were up in arms about the colour of the card. The official perhaps felt that defender Neco Williams was covering for the goalkeeper and that it wasn’t a clear goal-scoring opportunity. VAR, however, intervened, rightly compelling the referee to overturn his decision and send off the Welshman. The misjudgment by Hennessey meant he was only the third goalie in World Cup history to be sent off – Itumeleng Khune (South Africa against Uruguay In 2010) and Gianluca Pagliuca (Italy against Norway in 1994) are the other two to have that dubious distinction.

Wales had four minutes of normal time and roughly nine minutes of stoppage time to negotiate with ten men. They seemed to have done the requisite job, but Cheshmi — who entered the fray in the 78th minute — had other ideas. When Welsh midfielder Joe Allen made a poor clearance off a cross from Iran’s left, it didn’t seem like a costly error instantly. He rushed regardless towards Cheshmi, who received the ball 25 yards out from goal. Cheshmi controlled the ball with his left foot before unleashing a thunderous shot off his right that substitute Danny Ward couldn’t even get a hand on. Though Allen tried his best to close Cheshmi down, he sunk in despair on the turf as he saw the ball go in.

Iran just had 38% of the ball — as opposed to 62% possession that Wales enjoyed — but it is what you do with the ball that matters is a time-tested axiom. Iran made it 2-0 three minutes later as Rezaeian charged forward from the back to capitalize on a counterattack and calmly lifted the ball over the Welsh goalie.

Iran were completely deserving of all three points given that they had the better of the goal-scoring chances. As per the FIFA rankings, there isn’t much that separates the two teams — Wales are ranked 19th while the Iranians are 20th. But this result is another boost for the progress that teams from Asia are making in Qatar.

It was Iran’s show of solidarity for women’s rights in their country that had taken centre stage in their opening game against England, where the players chose to offer deafening silence during their national anthem. The 2-6 defeat that followed meant that the football wasn’t particularly noteworthy, but the Iranians have now shown they are here to play as well. The players sang the national anthem on Friday amid persisting tension in the stands between fans who are pro-government and those against it.

“It’s just the beginning, we need to finish the job. It was a wonderful day for us — we (stuck) to football, and I don’t have words to say thank you to the players. They were brilliant, they deserve all the respect. People will understand that these boys love to play football,” Iran coach Carlos Queiroz told reporters after the game.

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