Iran’s last minute goals shake Wales at the World Cup
DOHA: Iran secured a famous 2-0 victory over 10-man Wales on Friday as Carlos Queiroz’s men scored twice in extra time to preserve their World Cup campaign.
Iran’s players, who sang the national anthem before kick-off, sent their thousands of supporters to Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium as they celebrated the victory over a European team in the World Cup for the first time.
Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey became the first player to be sent off in the Qatar Championship for fighting Mehdi Taremi late in the match.
Iran, who had hit the net twice earlier, finally broke the deadlock in the 98th minute through substitute Rouzbeh Çeşme’s powerful shot.
Ramin Rezaian launched a counterattack in the second minute three minutes later.
Instead, Iran, who could have been eliminated in defeat, climbed to second place in Group B behind England, who beat them 6-2 in their opening match.
Iran’s victory on Tuesday in a politically charged showdown with the United States would take it to the knockout stage for the first time.
“We need our supporters to support us as always,” said striker Taremi.
“Even those in Iran behind their television, we need their positive energy and then we will win the match because we have our dream and we want to give that dream a chance.”
Wales fell to the bottom of the group and will have to beat neighbors England in their final match next week to have any chance of reaching the last 16 in their first World Cup since 1958.
“We are devastated. “There’s no other way to say it,” Captain Gareth Bale told the BBC.
“We fought until the last minute. It’s one of those things. It’s hard to take but we have to recover and come back again.”
The Americans face England later on Friday.
The Iranian players chose to sing the national anthem in contrast to their stance before the match against England, when they remained silent in an apparent gesture of solidarity with the anti-government protesters.
Some Iranian fans cried while the anthem was played.
Wales manager Rob Page opted to start striker Kieffer Moore, whose early shot was saved by Iranian goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini.
Iran thought they had taken the lead minutes later, but Ali Gholizadeh was clearly offside before he got in and the goal was disallowed by the VAR.
A cage game during a crazy period burst into life shortly after half-time when both Sardar Azmoun and Gholizadeh hit the woodwork within seconds.
A suddenly rejuvenated Iran seemed to be scoring a goal every time they moved forward, and Ethan Ampadu had to create an excellent save to deny Taremi the opening goal.
Hennessey was thanking him for staying level with 17 minutes left, stretching to deflect Saeed Ezzatullah’s shot around the post.
The game opened in the tumultuous final minutes as both sides realized they likely needed more than a draw.
Iran received a huge boost in their quest for victory when Hennessey recklessly exited his goal and collided with Taremi.
Remarkably, Guatemalan referee Mario Escobar only booked the goalkeeper at the start, but this was corrected after a VAR review and Hennessey was sent off in the 86th minute. Leicester’s Danny Ward took his place and soon saw Mehdi Turabi’s efforts go past his post.