FIFA World Cup - Group B
WalesWales0IranIran2

World Cup 2022: Wales 0-2 Iran - late Iranian double leaves 10-man Wales in danger of exit

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales in Doha

Wales' first World Cup for 64 years looks set to end at the first hurdle after a gut-wrenching - but deserved - last-ditch defeat by Iran in Qatar.

Substitute Roozbeh Cheshmi struck from 20 yards nine minutes into stoppage time, before Ramin Rezaeian finished off a counter-attack to seal victory for a revitalised Iran side, who have renewed hope of reaching the knockout stages for the first time in their history.

Those were decisive blows to Welsh prospects of victory, which had all but vanished when goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was sent off with four minutes of normal time remaining, following a video assistant referee check, for a reckless challenge on Medhi Taremi.

As they did in their opening draw with the United States, Wales started poorly and had the video assistant referee (VAR) to thank for disallowing a goal from Iran's Ali Gholizadeh for offside.

In one of the most highly charged atmospheres of this World Cup, Iran's players sang their national anthem this time - having declined to do so before their opening loss to England in an apparent show of support for anti-government protests in their country - but their own fans booed the anthem and some could be seen crying in the stands.

Roared on by the fervent and almost entirely Iranian crowd, Carlos Queiroz's side were extremely unlucky not to score early in the second half as Sardar Azmoun and Gholizadeh both struck the post within the space of a few seconds.

Wales were utterly ragged and, as they pushed forward in search of the late winning goal they desperately needed, a long ball over the top left the defence exposed and the onrushing Hennessey brought down Taremi.

Hennessey was initially shown a yellow card, but it was changed to a red after the referee was advised to check on the pitchside monitor, with the 35-year-old becoming only the third keeper to be sent off at a World Cup.

That set the seal on Wales' fate for this match and, in all likelihood, their hopes of reaching the second round.

While Robert Page's men were just as disjointed as they were against the USA, Iran were unrecognisable from the team thrashed 6-2 by England in their first match and fully deserved this win.

Wales now face the formidable challenge of needing to win their final group match on Tuesday against England, who take on the United States later on Friday.

It is not impossible but, based on how the Group B teams have fared so far in Qatar, Wales' first World Cup for 64 years looks like it is in serious danger of ending at the earliest stage.

Wales rue another sloppy performance

Having been absent from World Cups since 1958, Wales marked their emotional and long-awaited return to football's grandest stage with a 1-1 draw against the United States at the same stadium on Monday.

They seemed overawed by the magnitude of that occasion during a first half in which they were overrun and outplayed by the USA, but were much improved after the half-time introduction of Kieffer Moore.

The Bournemouth striker started this time and, while his presence gave Wales an added dimension in attack, they were still as worryingly porous in midfield, as they had been against the US.

Iran sensed that weakness and pressed their opponents high up the pitch, prompting panic among Wales' midfielders and defenders, particularly on the break.

Despite their vulnerability through the middle, where Page had stuck with the same selection, Wales looked more dangerous when they played with width, and it was Moore who stood to benefit.

Connor Roberts found the 6ft 5in forward with a fine cross from the right in the 13th minute and, although Moore stretched to connect with a volley, it was straight at goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini.

Roberts' next involvement three minutes later was less distinguished, as his cross-field pass was cut out near his own penalty area, allowing Sardar Azmoun to tee up Gholizadeh, who finished into an empty net. There was no flag at first but, after a swift VAR check, the goal was disallowed for offside.

Azmoun headed the next chance over as Wales struggled to get a hold of the game. Fortunately for them, as energetic and well-drilled as Iran were, they did not create much in the way of genuine scoring opportunities.

Wales slow to make changes

Despite the clear issues his side faced in the first half, Page made no changes at half-time.

Just as his inability to heed the lessons from the USA game invited Iranian pressure in the first half, Page's inaction on this occasion forced Wales on to the back foot during the second half.

They were extremely fortunate not to fall behind five minutes after the restart when Iran hit the post twice in the space of a few seconds.

First, Azmoun struck a right-footed effort which cannoned off the woodwork and fell to Gholizadeh, whose curling left-footed shot hit the other post. Azmoun was the first to react, but his rebound was smothered by Hennessey.

Wales were a mess at this point, their defence harassed and given next to no protection from the players in front of them.

Those struggles made it impossible to attack with any cohesion, rendering Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey almost obsolete.

It was a dispiriting sight for Wales fans to watch these two greats - heroes of the past two European Championships - reduced to peripheral figures on this occasion.

Wales still threw themselves forward in the vague hope of forcing a late winner, but that desperation was their undoing when Hennessey caught Taremi with a high boot.

The day belonged to Iran, who left it late to secure the victory they richly deserved.

Given too much time by Wales' tiring bodies, Cheshmi unleasehd a superb strike from 20 yards which whistled into the bottom corner to prompt wild celebrations. It was the World Cup's 42nd goal, but the first from outside the box.

Then with Wales even more exposed, it was left to Rezaeian to apply a delicate finishing touch as Iran surged to victory, knowing another against the USA will secure their passage to the second round for the first time.

Wales players sink to the turf after Iran's opening goal
Wales players sink to the turf after Iran's opening goal

Player of the match

CheshmiRoozbeh Cheshmi

with an average of 8.28

Wales

  1. Squad number4Player nameDavies
    Average rating

    4.14

  2. Squad number3Player nameN Williams
    Average rating

    4.11

  3. Squad number13Player nameMoore
    Average rating

    4.00

  4. Squad number15Player nameAmpadu
    Average rating

    3.97

  5. Squad number6Player nameRodon
    Average rating

    3.96

  6. Squad number1Player nameHennessey
    Average rating

    3.83

  7. Squad number5Player nameMepham
    Average rating

    3.80

  8. Squad number8Player nameWilson
    Average rating

    3.52

  9. Squad number14Player nameRoberts
    Average rating

    3.39

  10. Squad number20Player nameJames
    Average rating

    3.37

  11. Squad number9Player nameJohnson
    Average rating

    3.36

  12. Squad number7Player nameAllen
    Average rating

    3.29

  13. Squad number12Player nameWard
    Average rating

    3.28

  14. Squad number10Player nameRamsey
    Average rating

    2.63

  15. Squad number11Player nameBale
    Average rating

    2.56

Iran

  1. Squad number15Player nameCheshmi
    Average rating

    8.28

  2. Squad number9Player nameTaremi
    Average rating

    8.20

  3. Squad number20Player nameAzmoun
    Average rating

    8.10

  4. Squad number18Player nameKarimi
    Average rating

    8.09

  5. Squad number16Player nameTorabi
    Average rating

    8.02

  6. Squad number10Player nameAnsarifard
    Average rating

    7.89

  7. Squad number17Player nameGholizadeh
    Average rating

    7.88

  8. Squad number23Player nameRezaeian
    Average rating

    7.87

  9. Squad number7Player nameJahanbakhsh
    Average rating

    7.84

  10. Squad number3Player nameHajisafi
    Average rating

    7.80

  11. Squad number6Player nameEzatolahi
    Average rating

    7.80

  12. Squad number19Player nameHosseini
    Average rating

    7.79

  13. Squad number21Player nameNoorollahi
    Average rating

    7.78

  14. Squad number24Player nameHosseini
    Average rating

    7.77

  15. Squad number5Player nameMohammadi
    Average rating

    7.77

  16. Squad number8Player namePouraliganji
    Average rating

    7.67

Line-ups

Wales

Formation 3-5-2

  • 1HennesseyBooked at 86mins
  • 5Mepham
  • 6RodonBooked at 45mins
  • 4Davies
  • 14RobertsSubstituted forJohnsonat 57'minutes
  • 10RamseySubstituted forWardat 87'minutes
  • 15AmpaduSubstituted forAllenat 77'minutes
  • 8WilsonSubstituted forJamesat 58'minutes
  • 3N Williams
  • 11Bale
  • 13Moore

Substitutes

  • 2Gunter
  • 7Allen
  • 9Johnson
  • 12Ward
  • 16Morrell
  • 17Lockyer
  • 18Williams
  • 19M Harris
  • 20James
  • 21Davies
  • 22Thomas
  • 23Levitt
  • 24Cabango
  • 25Colwill
  • 26Smith

Iran

Formation 4-3-3

  • 24Hosseini
  • 23RezaeianBooked at 90mins
  • 19Hosseini
  • 8Pouraliganji
  • 5Mohammadi
  • 21NoorollahiSubstituted forCheshmiat 78'minutes
  • 6EzatolahiSubstituted forKarimiat 83'minutes
  • 3HajisafiSubstituted forTorabiat 77'minutes
  • 17GholizadehSubstituted forJahanbakhshat 77'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 20AzmounSubstituted forAnsarifardat 68'minutes
  • 9Taremi

Substitutes

  • 2Moharrami
  • 4Khalilzadeh
  • 7Jahanbakhsh
  • 10Ansarifard
  • 11Amiri
  • 12Niazmand
  • 13Kanani
  • 14Ghoddos
  • 15Cheshmi
  • 16Torabi
  • 18Karimi
  • 22Abedzadeh
  • 25Jalali
Referee:
Mario Escobar
Attendance:
40,875

Match Stats

Home TeamWalesAway TeamIran
Possession
Home62%
Away38%
Shots
Home10
Away21
Shots on Target
Home3
Away6
Corners
Home2
Away7
Fouls
Home9
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Wales 0, IR Iran 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Wales 0, IR Iran 2.

  3. Goal!

    Goal! Wales 0, IR Iran 2. Ramin Rezaeian (IR Iran) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mehdi Taremi following a fast break.

  4. Goal!

    Goal! Wales 0, IR Iran 1. Roozbeh Cheshmi (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Morteza Pouraliganji.

  6. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Mehdi Torabi.

  7. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Ramin Rezaeian (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Mehdi Taremi.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Brennan Johnson (Wales) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Neco Williams.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Neco Williams (Wales) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

  10. Booking

    Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  11. Post update

    Chris Mepham (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Alireza Jahanbakhsh (IR Iran).

  13. Booking

    Ramin Rezaeian (IR Iran) is shown the yellow card.

  14. Post update

    Dan James (Wales) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Ali Karimi (IR Iran).

  16. Post update

    Offside, IR Iran. Alireza Jahanbakhsh tries a through ball, but Karim Ansarifard is caught offside.

  17. Post update

    Kieffer Moore (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Majid Hosseini (IR Iran).

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Mehdi Torabi (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Karim Ansarifard.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Karim Ansarifard (IR Iran) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mehdi Taremi.

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