Iran redeemed themselves on Friday after a resounding defeat by England thanks to two late goals. Coach Carlos Queiroz’s team beat Wales 2-0 (0-0) in Al Rayyan. The two goals by Rouzbeh Cheshmi (90+8′) and Ramin Rezaeian (90+11′) came in overtime. With that, Iran has three points after two rounds and has a good chance of reaching the knockout phase for the first time in the last group game against the USA.
In the first half of the game, the two teams offered an extremely manageable level. Shortly after the restart, Iran failed twice at the post (52nd). During the second half of the game, Iran was closer to the winning goal, but the success thanks to the two goals was okay in the end.
Wales goalie Wayne Hennessey saw the first red card of the World Cup after a tough challenge. Gareth Bale, who became the country’s all-time record player after making 110 appearances for Wales, was ineffective throughout the game. Wales are still waiting for their first World Cup success in 64 years. In Group B England and the USA (8 p.m. / ORF 1) meet in the evening.
Wales boss Rob Page made just one change from the first group game. Striker Kieffer Moore started up front alongside Bale. Iran made five changes to their starting XI. Seyed Hossein Hosseini, who had replaced regular number one Alireza Beiranvand in the opening game in the 20th minute through injury, started in goal. In attack, coach Carlos Queiroz relied on Leverkusen’s Sardar Azmoun alongside Mehdi Taremi.
In the build-up to the game, all eyes were on Iran’s players. Before the England game, the actors did not sing along with the anthem out of solidarity with the protesters at home. This time all eleven players moved their lips relatively motionless and without much passion.
The early stages of the game belonged to Wales. In the third minute, the Dragons in the person of Neco Williams approached the goal of the Iranians for the first time, but the shot went over the goal. Moore missed the Welsh team’s best chance in the first half when he failed artistically at goalman Hosseini after a cross from Connor Roberts (12′). A little later the ball wriggled in the net for the first time after a mistake in the Welsh build-up game. Iran’s Ali Gholizadeh’s goal was ruled out for being offside after studying the video (16′).
As a result, the intensity of the game decreased. The Welsh tried to build up the game in a structured way, but failed to produce any more dangerous moves. Iran had their best moments from a set piece and in transition play. Asset Azmoun headed wide of the goal (23′) and missed a well-timed cross just inches before the break (45+2′).
In the second half, Iran immediately made an exclamation point. At first, Azmoun hit the right post alone in front of goalie Hennessey, a few seconds later Ali Gholizadeh shot from around 20 meters, this time his shot hit the left post (52′). Iran increasingly took control as the second half progressed, strangling Wales at times. However, it only got really tricky again in the 73rd minute when Hennessey was able to steer a well-placed shot by Saeid Ezatolahi off the post.
Shortly after Ben Davies failed with a long-range shot (83′), Hennessey striker Taremi cleared the ball on the other end. After studying the video, referee Mario Escobar, who had initially shown the goalie yellow, dismissed the Welsh goalkeeper (86th) – the first sending off of the World Cup.
In injury time, Iran still secured the deserved victory. After an unsuccessful attempt by Joe Allen to clear the ball, Cheshmi hit the bottom right corner with a long-range shot. A little later, Rezaeian completed a counterattack to make it 2-0.
Security intervened against Banner
There was excitement even before the match: this time the Iran players sang the anthem again, but the stadium security intervened because of critical banners against the mullah regime. An Iran fan was escorted out of the stadium for showing support for anti-government protesters in Iran on a shirt. According to eyewitnesses, the man wore a shirt with the anti-government protest slogan “Women, Life, Freedom”.
It was initially unclear why the fan was actually led out of the stadium. The press officers in the stadium for Fifa did not initially answer an inquiry, and a statement from the stadium manager was announced for later. A spokesman for the organizing committee referred to the list of prohibited items and symbols in the stadiums, but did not specify which prohibited symbol the fan had displayed. The rules ban symbols with “political, offensive or discriminatory messages”.
Another supporter from Iran, who also supports the anti-government protests, said she brought a t-shirt into the stadium past security, but that her friends because of their shirts with the message “Women Life Freedom” were turned away.
Nevertheless, there were numerous expressions of support for the anti-government protests in Iran in the stadium. One woman had pursed crimson tears from her eyes and was holding a soccer jersey with “Mahsa Amini – 22” printed on the back: a reference to the 22-year-old Kurdish woman whose death in police custody two months ago sparked the protests . A man next to her held up a shirt with the words “Women, Life, Freedom.” Another fan showed an Iranian flag with the words “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) crossed out. A security stood nearby and pointed at the man.