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Wales 0-2 Iran: Cheshmi and Rezaeian strike late to earn deserved win
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Iran celebrate their dramatic late win over 10-man Wales
Iran celebrate their dramatic late win over 10-man Wales

Rouzbeh Cheshmi and Ramin Rezaeian both scored in stoppage time to secure Iran a famous 2-0 World Cup win over Wales and keep their hopes of reaching the last 16 alive in stunning fashion.

Wales, who had Wayne Hennessey sent off late on, had seemingly been on course to somehow avoid defeat, but two fine goals right at the end sparked bedlam among the Iran team and fans.

Iran opting to sing their national anthem after abstaining against England contributed to a charged atmosphere that brought an early flurry, including a disallowed Ali Gholizadeh goal.

That let-off and the fact Gholizadeh and Sardar Azmoun struck the post just after the break suggested luck was on Wales' side.

But Hennessey's red card for a wild challenge turned the tide, and Iran picked the Dragons off in ruthless and remarkable fashion.

A lively start saw Connor Roberts almost inspire an early Wales opener for Kieffer Moore with a brilliant cross, before seeing then his poor pass lead to Gholizadeh finishing off an intricate move.

Fortunately for Roberts the goal was disallowed for offside and the contest soon became cagey.

Iran finished the first half well and maintained that greater purpose at the start of the second, with Azmoun smashing against one post on the break and Gholizadeh curling against the other nine seconds later.

Wales became even less of a threat as Hennessey was given his marching orders in the 86th minute after racing out of his goal and catching Mehdi Taremi in the face with his knee.

Iran took full advantage when Cheshmi's emphatic 20-yard strike into the bottom-right corner finally gave them the deserved breakthrough and Wales were finished off on the break.

Taremi charged forward and coolly picked out the run of Rezaeian, whose delicate finish over Danny Ward ended Wales' hopes of a turnaround.

What does it mean? Wales with it all to do as Iran take big step

After getting battered 6-2 by England, many had already written Iran off. But this was genuinely a very accomplished performance, even before Hennessey's sending off.

It means they stand a real chance of reaching the knockout stages with a draw against the United States next time out – the task facing Wales is rather trickier.

They face England in their last group game. While there is of course a chance the Three Lions have already confirmed qualification by then, Gareth Southgate's men will not be wanting to do their neighbours any favours.

Old guard lack inspiration

Gareth Bale became Wales' record appearance maker here, but it was a game he will want to forget. The forward was utterly anonymous, and Aaron Ramsey was similarly ineffective in midfield.

Taremi and Azmoun lead from the front

Neither of Iran's stars scored, but both were brilliant. Azmoun was very unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet, while Taremi played a key role in Hennessey's sending off and the second goal.

What's next?

Wales face the huge challenge of needing to get a result against England on Tuesday, when Iran face the United States in a repeat of the "most politically charged game in World Cup history" at France 98.


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