With goals in the added time of the second half, Iran defeated Wales by 2-0, this Friday morning (25) at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium (named after a late Emir of Qatar), and remains alive in the fight for one of two places in Group B of the Qatar Cup for the Round of 16.
The match, which kicked off at 1 pm (local time) in the hot desert sun, favored Iran and demanded even more from the Welsh players. Geographical proximity also helped the Iranians: their crowd had bought most of the 40,875 tickets. Even so, the 1st half was played in a slow mode, far away from the goalkeepers’ areas and with a festival of errors.
With 13 minutes, the first threat occurred in a game considered lukewarm, when the number 13, Moore, quickly entered a cross, touched the ball, but goalkeeper Hosseini palmed the reflex.
Iran’s response was accurate. At 15 minutes, Roberts did what you shouldn’t do, he crossed the ball in front of his team’s area. The Iranians took advantage of this and played until the goal of Wales. However, Gholizadeh was offside when he finished for the nets. The goal was disallowed by VAR (video referee).
In the 46th minute, crossing into the Welsh area, Sardar stretched his leg, but did not reach it and the Europeans got rid of it once again. At 49, Ahmad took chances from outside the area, but Hennessey fit firmly. It was the last play of a 1st half of little football and a lot of running in a suffocating heat.
In the final stage, the most improbable move of this World Cup took place, certainly. Azmoun ran into the Wales penalty area, filled his foot and saw the ball hit the crossbar. On the rebound, Gholizadeh took a chance from outside the area and also saw the crossbar save goalkeeper Hennessey’s goal. The bad luck of Iran, or the excess of luck of the Nottingham Forest goalkeeper (England) was unbelievable.
With 20 minutes of the final stage, it was clear that Wales were playing for a ball, betting on counterattacks and defending themselves from Iran’s attacks as they could. A very risky strategy by coach Rob Page. The possible point won with the 0-0 would be a reward for the team’s incompetence during the 90 minutes.
At 27 minutes, Hennessey was demanded again: Ezatolahi kicked in the corner and the goalkeeper had to stretch all the way to spread it to the corner. At 38 minutes, it was Wales’ turn to risk. A missile from Davies found goalkeeper Hosseini, who palmed it over.
At 40 minutes, goalkeeper Hennessey, hero of the match until then, was expelled from the field. To counter an Iranian throw, he left the area, stretched out his leg and hit striker Mehdi Taremi in the face. He turned into a villain, in a move very similar to the foul that Harold Schumacher, a German goalkeeper, made on Patrick Battiston, from France, in the semifinals of the Spanish Cup (1982).
In the 53rd minute of the 2nd half, with one more on the field, Iran finally scored for Wales. A missile from outside the area of reserve Roozbeh Cheshmi entered the corner of the goal of also reserve Ward. Unbelievable! The first goal from outside the penalty area in this World Cup.
Even more, at 55 minutes, in a very fast counterattack, Ramin Rezaeian appeared in front of Ward and hit from above to give the final numbers to the confrontation, 2 to 0. The referee Mário Alberto Escobar, from Guatemala, whistled the end of the game in then.
With the triumph, Iran is in a great position in Group B, ready to face the United States, in the third round, next Tuesday (29) from 4 pm. The Welsh will face the English at the same time.
Translated to english by RJ983
From Brazil, by EBC News