Wales vs Iran result: How 64-year Welsh World Cup dream turned into a nightmare

Wales' Gareth Bale looks dejected after the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - 'It's gutting, we're gutted': How Iran turned Wales' 64-year World Cup dream into a nightmare - PA/Nick Potts
Wales' Gareth Bale looks dejected after the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - 'It's gutting, we're gutted': How Iran turned Wales' 64-year World Cup dream into a nightmare - PA/Nick Potts

Iran 2 Wales 0

04:01 PM

Analysis

Wales collapse after Hennessey sees red

By Sam Dean

Not even Wayne Hennessey, the great survivor of this Wales squad and a veteran of more than 100 international appearances, would have thought himself capable of surviving this particular VAR check. As soon as referee Mario Escobar was asked to consult the pitchside monitor, Hennessey would have known the truth of it. His game was over, his World Cup almost certainly finished.

As it turned out, that soon became true of his team as a whole. It is now difficult to see any way back into the tournament for Wales, who never lack effort but did lack quality throughout this chaotic meeting with Iran. Yes, Hennessey’s moment of recklessness proved fatal. But no, Wales were not heading for victory before he charged from his line and scissor-kicked Medhi Taremi, the Iran striker, instead of the ball.

To watch the challenge in the flesh, even from high up in the stands of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, was to almost feel the impact of it yourself. The thud could not be heard, but the magnitude of the collision could certainly be seen. The first reaction was to wince. The second was to wonder how on earth Hennessey had only received a yellow card.

That yellow soon became red, of course, as the replays were shown and the true nature of the misjudgement became clear. Such was the ferocity of the hit, on first viewing at least, that it triggered memories of the infamous collision between Harald Schumacher, the former West Germany goalkeeper, and Frenchman Patrick Battiston in 1982.

Wayne Hennessey of Wales is sent off by referee Mario Escobar during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images
Wayne Hennessey of Wales is sent off by referee Mario Escobar during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images

Thankfully, it soon became clear that any comparisons between those two goalkeeping fouls would be grossly unfair, as Taremi was able to continue unharmed. But the consequences for Hennessey and his team were disastrous nonetheless, with the ten men of Wales unable to withstand any more of Iran’s relentless attacks. “The red card obviously changed the game,” said Daniel James, the Wales winger.

Hennessey’s generation of Wales players, including his best friend Gareth Bale, have made a habit of exceeding expectations and staying defiant against the usual realities of this sport. Here, those realities caught up with them at last. These players can only outrun time and disregard physiological science for so long, before eventually the hill proves too steep and the task proves too great.

The emotions of football can swing at any moment, for any player, and for Hennessey the pain of his error will no doubt be as strong as the joy he felt in June, when he produced a phenomenal showing in their play-off against Ukraine. “The best performance I have ever seen from a goalkeeper,” said Bale of his friend that day.

Wales' Gareth Bale reacts at the end of the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan - AP
Wales' Gareth Bale reacts at the end of the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan - AP

On afternoons such as those, Hennessey has appeared to be so much more than what his CV suggests. As if he was living a different life, and existing in a footballing fantasy. But in the real world he is a 35-year-old in the final days of his career, playing as a backup for Nottingham Forest. Before this tournament he had made only two appearances all season, and the fantasy of June’s performance in Cardiff ultimately melted away in the heat of Doha.

Perhaps it was rustiness that caused his wild tackle on Taremi. Perhaps it was the pressure of the occasion, with the game in its 86th minute and Welsh hopes on the line. Or maybe it was simpler than that: a split-second decision, a lost race, a gamble that did not pay off.

Hennessey was not alone in struggling, even if his errors ultimately proved the most costly. Bale was anonymous, scrambling for a foothold that never appeared. Aaron Ramsey was similarly ineffective, permanently wandering out of position. Even Joe Allen, such a reliable member of this group, was at fault for Iran’s second goal.

“You can carry one or two players if they have off days,” said Rob Page, the Wales manager. “But when the majority of the team are not quite at it, there is only going to be one outcome. We fell well below the standards we have set in recent months. When you do that in top competitions, you get punished.”

Would Hennessey have been able to save the first of Iran’s goals, scored from range by Rouzbeh Cheshmi? Possibly. Danny Ward, the substitute goalkeeper with a smaller wingspan, made the slightest of touches with his fingers as the shot fizzed into the corner. Neither goalkeeper would have stopped the second, converted delicately on the counter-attack by Ramin Rezaeian.

“It is a hard one to take,” said Page. “I have said to the players before every game, ‘go out and show the world what you show us every day’. That performance is not a true reflection of the team. We deserved that defeat.”

Wales face England next, but what then? What now for the golden generation? Where do players like Bale, Ramsey and Hennessey go from here? And where can Wales realistically go without them?

Page and his coaching staff will be asking these questions, too. First they will let the dust settle on this defeat, and then on this tournament. After that, there will have to be a shift. Perhaps not immediately, but change is coming. The players of Bale’s generation have been living their dream for so long, overcoming hurdles that many thought to be insurmountable, but this felt like the day a nation was finally forced to wake up.

03:56 PM

Report

How Iran ‘threw out the garbage’ in World Cup’s most highly charged win

By Jeremy Wilson

What had begun with tears and jeers from their own fans after the players did sing the national anthem would end with one of the greatest celebrations in Iran’s entire football history.

Goals in the 99th and 101st minute did not merely represent a devastating blow to Wales but sealed Iran’s first ever World Cup win against European opposition and puts them within reach of a debut appearance in the tournament’s knockout phase.

It would have been enough on its own to justify ecstatic on-field celebrations - with players and coaching staff all flooding onto the pitch to celebrate the goals - but this was also played under the intensely emotional backdrop of protests outside the stadium and a deeply volatile civil and political landscape back home.

Voria Ghafouri, a prominent recent player in the Iranian national football team, was reportedly arrested only on Thursday for “insulting the national soccer team and propagandising against the government” after backing protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September.

And, after choosing to stay silent ahead of their defeat against England on Monday in an apparent show of support for the protest movement, it was very noticeable here that Iran’s players did sing the national anthem.

Mehdi Chamran, the chairman of Tehran city council, had said on Tuesday that “we will never allow anyone to insult our anthem and flag” and there had been reports of reprisals if the players did again keep quiet.

When they did tentatively sing, some fans inside the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium were brought to tears. Others booed and jeered. World Cup security staff were earlier seen speaking to fans displaying the banner "Woman, Life, Freedom". The Associated Press also reported angry scenes outside the stadium as groups of men chanted "The Islamic Republic of Iran" at women giving media interviews. Fifa’s World Cup rules prohibit political stadium statements among fans as well as players, although they had allowed Iranian women to display banners at the 2018 World Cup in Russia which called for their inclusion as football fans.

It had all made for an extraordinarily emotional backdrop from which Iran’s players somehow seemed able to draw purpose and unity.

They withstood long early periods without the ball to consistently create the game’s best chances on the counterattack before finally, in the very last minute of added after Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey had been sent off, Rouzbeh Cheshmi summoned a wonderful match-winning finish. It was no more than Iran had deserved following a performance which also suggested that England had beaten a rather better team on Monday than might previously have been appreciated. Chesmhi did not specifically discuss the political backdrop back home after the game but did repeatedly refer to the huge pressure that his team-mates are playing under.

Rouzbeh Cheshmi (L) of Iran celebrates with teammate Mehdi Torabi after scoring the opening goal during the FIFA World Cup 2022 group B soccer match between Wales and Iran at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium - Shutterstock
Rouzbeh Cheshmi (L) of Iran celebrates with teammate Mehdi Torabi after scoring the opening goal during the FIFA World Cup 2022 group B soccer match between Wales and Iran at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium - Shutterstock

“I should say that, if the pressures were football-related, that would be expected,” he said. “But, if our players were under pressure unfairly that would not be right. I believe certain things that happened to players were not quite fair. I think they were judged unfairly and received some non-football pressure.

“It was because of the solidarity among team members that we were able to achieve this result. I believe that this was because of the help of god and all the efforts of the team players.”

Queiroz said that the team’s pride had “bled” after the 6-2 defeat against England but that the players had been galvanised by the chance to play for the people of Iran.

“The crowd deserve a special word - it was fun, there was atmosphere and drama,” said Queiroz, who had challenged reporters before the game for a perceived inconsistency in asking him about politics but not the managers of other teams. “We put all the garbage things outside of our minds, we focussed on our goal,” added Queiroz. “It was 90 minutes of joy, peace and happiness. What we want to do is give this gift to Iranian fans. This game was a gift to them all: from north, south, east and west. We're back to football, and I don't have the words to say ‘thank-you’ to our players. Now we need to finish the job.”

01:35 PM

Former players react

Former Wales striker Ian Rush speaking on the BBC

Second half was like a cup game, both teams needed to win it

Wales gave it 100 per cent but it was a lack of finishing and second half Iran were the better team.

Ex-Wales defender Ashely Williams added

Wales gave it everything like they always do.

We probably didn't create enough and didn't have enough chances on the Iranian goal. I'm gutted for the boys.

01:13 PM

Rob Page reacts

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales.

Our performance before the red card was not acceptable.

We hoped it would all come together today, but we were nowhere near the levels we've set and the standards we've set in recent games.

One or two you can carry, but when there are so many off days there is only one outcome.

I always take responsibility, that's my team, the sending off didn't help of course but at that point we had five forwards on the pitch so couldn't get a defensive shape.

But yes I'll always take responsibility for performances.

It's a difficult changing room at the minute but we will be ready [against England], it's a local derby and a great game to finish on and we'll be prepared to go.

Rob Page, Head Coach of Wales, reacts during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Julian Finney/Getty Images
Rob Page, Head Coach of Wales, reacts during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Julian Finney/Getty Images

01:09 PM

Qatar vs Senegal

After Wales's World Cup hopes are on the brink, following their 2-0 defeat to Iran in the opening match of Friday's World Cup action.

Our attention now turns to hosts Qatar who face Senegal at the Al Thumama Stadium.

The loser of this match will be knocked out of the tournament- will the hosts be leaving the party first?

Follow the our live coverage right here.

01:05 PM

Heartbreak for Wales but pure elation for Iran

Wales teammates react at the end of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Nicholas Tucat/Getty Images
Wales teammates react at the end of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Nicholas Tucat/Getty Images
Iranian players run from the bench to celebrate during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran - Getty Images/Charlotte Wilson
Iranian players run from the bench to celebrate during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran - Getty Images/Charlotte Wilson
Welsh captain Gareth Bale sitting on the floor after defeat during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran - Charlotte Wilson/Getty Images
Welsh captain Gareth Bale sitting on the floor after defeat during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran - Charlotte Wilson/Getty Images
Ramin Rezaeian of IR Iran celebrates with teammates after scoring their team's second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran - Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Ramin Rezaeian of IR Iran celebrates with teammates after scoring their team's second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran - Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

12:39 PM

Iranian u-turn

An amazing game with an amazing finish but there are other storylines to emerge from this one.

Namely, the Iranian's choosing to sing their national anthem as opposed to not singing it in protest ahead of their match against England.

Read the full story HERE.

12:34 PM

Stat of the day

Wayne Hennessey has become just the third goalkeeper in the history to be sent off at the World Cup. Quite the statistic that.

An honour, albeit a dubious one for the Wales keeper.

Mario Escobar shows a red card to Wales' goalkeeper #01 Wayne Hennessey following a VR review during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AFP
Mario Escobar shows a red card to Wales' goalkeeper #01 Wayne Hennessey following a VR review during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AFP

12:32 PM

WATCH: the final nail

12:26 PM

The Bale conundrum

The Wales talisman was almost anonymous through that 90 minutes. He looks a shell of the player that has, so often, put his country on his back and carried them to success.

You can't help but feel it was only his name that kept him on the pitch there.

12:24 PM

Post-match reaction: Carlos Queiroz

“This is just the beginning, but we need to finish the job. A wonderful day for us.

“All respect to my players, today showed they love to play football. Our players deserve to be supported. We want to play for the fans.”

Players of Iran celebrate with head coach Carlos Queiroz after winning the FIFA World Cup 2022 group B soccer match between Wales and Iran at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium - Shutterstock
Players of Iran celebrate with head coach Carlos Queiroz after winning the FIFA World Cup 2022 group B soccer match between Wales and Iran at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium - Shutterstock

12:23 PM

WATCH: Cheshmi screamer gives Iran the lead

12:21 PM

Utter scenes

12:20 PM

Incredible Taremi

Most chances created in a single World Cup game across the last two tournaments:

  • 8 - Mehdi Taremi vs. Wales

  • 7 - Mesut Özil vs. South Korea

  • 7 - Neymar vs. Belgium

  • 7 - Kieran Trippier vs. Belgium

What a display from Iran's No.9.

Mehdi Taremi of IR Iran in action during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Fifa
Mehdi Taremi of IR Iran in action during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Fifa

12:17 PM

Post-match reaction - Gareth Bale

“We are gutted, there is no other way to say it. We fought until the last second and we need to go again. We are all gutted but we have to pick ourselves up straight away.

“It is going to be difficult for us for sure. We will have to see. What can I say? We recover and we have to go again.”

Gareth Bale of Wales shows dejection during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images
Gareth Bale of Wales shows dejection during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images

12:15 PM

Player ratings

Wales lose in heartbreaking circumstances. Lets us know what you thought of their performances.

12:14 PM

Wales were disappointing

Iran were superb throughout but Wales will look back at this one with regret. They never got a foothold in the match and were constantly guilty of giving the ball away in dangerous areas. In the end they were punished and their World Cup dreams have been left in tatters.

12:08 PM

It was coming

Iran were dominant in that second half and when Hennessey was sent off you always felt there was going to be at least one more big chance for them.

In the end there was two and they took both.

12:04 PM

FULL TIME: Wales 0-2 Iran

What a game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh (L) and Majid Hosseini of IR Iran celebrate their team's first goal by Roozbeh Cheshmi during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images
Alireza Jahanbakhsh (L) and Majid Hosseini of IR Iran celebrate their team's first goal by Roozbeh Cheshmi during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images

12:03 PM

90+11 min: Wales 0-2 Iran

Wales have to throw everything at it and it leaves them exposed at the back. Iran win the ball and break clear and Rezaeian is left with a simple finish past Danny Ward.

Wales hearts broken.

Ramin Rezaeian of IR Iran scores their team's second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Fifa
Ramin Rezaeian of IR Iran scores their team's second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Fifa

12:01 PM

GOOOAALLLLL

It's 2-0!

12:00 PM

90+8 min: Wales 0-1 Iran

The ball comes out of the area and falls to Cheshmi, who unleashes a powerful right-footed shot and this time Ward can't get down.

What a goal. What a moment.

Iran's Roozbeh Cheshmi scores their first goal - Reuters
Iran's Roozbeh Cheshmi scores their first goal - Reuters

11:59 AM

GOAAALLLLLLLLL

IRAN HAVE DONE IT!!!

11:58 AM

90+6 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Two minutes to go here. Is there a winner coming from somewhere?

11:57 AM

90+5 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Neco Williams has the chance to put the laces through one but slices it horrendously and it falls to Brennan Johnson. He again can't control it though and Iran are off the hook.

11:55 AM

90+3 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Iran are really pushing here but they're rushing things. There are at least five more minutes to play here. You have to think they'll be at least one more chance for them.

11:54 AM

90+2 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Foul by Karimi and Wales can loft another ball into the box....dealt with by Iran though.

The men in red needed more there.

11:52 AM

90+1 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Wales loft a ball into the area and it falls to Kieffer Moore but his touch is loose and dribbles into the grasp of Hosseini.

That was a chance for Wales, especially a Wales with ten men.

11:51 AM

90 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Nine minutes of added time here....

11:49 AM

88 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Torabi has an excellent chance to test Ward from the outside of the area but his shot goes wide.

If Iran don't win this they'll be kicking themselves for years.

11:48 AM

88 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Danny Ward is on for Wales as they defend a dangerous free kick. Iran pushing everything at this now.

11:47 AM

HE'S OFF

Wales are down to ten men for the last four minutes here!

11:46 AM

85 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

The ref has been called over the the screen. Hennessey is going to bet sent off here surely. His foot is high and it's very dangerous.

Wales' Wayne Hennessey fouls Iran's Mehdi Taremi leading to a red card - Reuters
Wales' Wayne Hennessey fouls Iran's Mehdi Taremi leading to a red card - Reuters

11:45 AM

84 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Hennessey is miles out of his box as he brings down the Iranian attacker. Iran want a red card but the ref has given his a yellow.

How has he not been sent off there?!?!?

11:44 AM

83 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Hosseini pulls off a good save from a powerful Ben Davies shot. That was Wales first clear chance of the half.

11:43 AM

81 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Few players are falling to the ground with cramp now. The hot conditions and high intensity appear to be coming back to bite now.

It's now or never for Iran and Wales as we enter the final stages of this enthralling contest.

11:41 AM

80 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Wales are having a bit more of the ball now, with most of it coming it the Iran half. Can't help but feel that Hennessey save might prove a truly pivotal moment in this one.

11:38 AM

77 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

A host of changes from both sides. Perhaps the headline is that Joe Allen is on for Wales. Can he brings a semblance of control to this game for Rob Page's side?

11:36 AM

Player ratings

We're into the last 15 minutes here. Give us your thoughts on how the players have performed.

11:35 AM

73 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

GREAT SAVE!

Ezatolahi has a go from outside the area and Wayne Hennessey has to make an excellent save down to his right to keep it at 0-0.

11:33 AM

72 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

The is tense. I mean really, really tense. Real jeopardy at this World Cup for the first time.

Wales' Brennan Johnson, left, and Iran's Milad Mohammadi fight for the ball during the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran - AP
Wales' Brennan Johnson, left, and Iran's Milad Mohammadi fight for the ball during the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran - AP

11:32 AM

70 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Ezatolahi floats a lovely ball into the back post where Pouraliganji is waiting. All he has to do is head the ball back across goal and Iran have the opener but he gets it all wrong and Wales escape.

11:30 AM

'Now or never'

Sam Dean at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium

Rob Page has rolled the dice. Daniel James and Brennan Johnson, the speed merchants of the new generation, are on. Wales have gone to a back four. Now or never...

11:29 AM

68 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Azmoun's day is finally done. He's replaced by Ansarifard.

11:28 AM

67 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Brennan Johnson gets to the byline and cuts the ball back across the six-yard box. Bale is there and goes for a flick but is swarmed by Iran defenders. Better from Wales.

11:26 AM

65 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Another great break from Iran and it's Taremi again who look threatening. He cuts in on his right and goes for goal but more good work Wales at the back denies a clear chance.

This game is opening up now.

11:24 AM

63 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Iran break quickly after Kieffer Moore gives the ball away. Taremi almost slides the ball wide into Ezatolahi but Davies get a crucial boot on it and it's an Iran corner.,

11:20 AM

59 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Azmoun is down again for Iran. This is the third time and it looks like Iran are going to need to finally make a change. That will come as a huge relief to Wales.

Oh wait...he wants to come back on. Warrior mentality from Azmoun.

Sardar Azmoun receives medical treatment during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AFP
Sardar Azmoun receives medical treatment during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AFP

11:19 AM

57 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Brennan Johnson and Dan James are on for Wales. That is not a defensive change from Rob Page. Wales are going for this now. They need to get the momentum back.

11:17 AM

55 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

It's Mepham to the rescue for Wales as Hajisafi lashes a shot towards goal after a poor clearance. Iran are turning the screw here.

11:14 AM

52 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

WOW.

Iran hit the post twice inside 30 seconds!

The ball over the top finds Azmoun who hits the post with his effort. Moments Gholizadeh hits one from distance which also canons off the post before Azmoun's follow-up is straight at Hennessey.

Crazy scenes.

Iran's Sardar Azmoun has an attempt on goal during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - PA
Iran's Sardar Azmoun has an attempt on goal during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - PA

11:11 AM

50 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Davies looks to feed a cute ball through the midfield but it's blocked by a solid wall of Iranian bodies. This is exactly what was promised but went sorely lacking in Iran's game against England earlier this week. Wales are finding it very hard to break them down.

11:09 AM

47 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Iran are already looking for that ball over the top that served them so well in the first half. With Rodon now on a yellow card, that could be an even more potent weapon.

11:06 AM

45 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

We're underway in the second half...

No changes for either side.

11:05 AM

More needed

A man for big goals, Wales need more from Gareth Bale. He again was pretty quiet in that half.

Gareth Bale of Wales during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Offside
Gareth Bale of Wales during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Offside

11:02 AM

Huge 45 minutes upcoming

The football hasn't been the finest but the tension is palpable in this one. Both sides know a loss here would pretty much end their chances of qualification.

Expect both sides to be going for it in the second half. Should be very exciting.

10:54 AM

Player ratings

A breathless first half of what feels like a knockout match for both sides. Give us you players ratings below.

10:52 AM

'A chaotic half of football'

Sam Dean at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium

A chaotic half of football, although Wales started to take more control after a shaky start. Their best moments have come through Kieffer Moore -- he needs more service.

10:50 AM

HALF TIME: Wales 0-0 Iran

The referee's whistle blows.

Tight, tense and hot half in Doha.

10:49 AM

45+4 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Rodon picks up a yellow card for a loose challenge at the end of this half. He'll have to be careful now.

10:48 AM

45+2 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Just as I say that Iran create a half chance. Ezatolahi whips a lovely ball into the six-yard box and Azmoun is only inches away from getting on the end of it. Rodon did enough to put him off but that was close.

10:48 AM

45+2 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Just as I say that Iran create a half chance Ezatolahi whips a lovely ball into the six-yard box and Azmoun is only inches away from getting on the end of it. Rodon did enough to put his off but that was close.

10:46 AM

45 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Iran started well here but their attacking threat has waned slightly as the half has worn on, much to the relief of Wales. Evenly poised here.

Four minutes of added time at the end of the first half.

10:43 AM

42 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Pouraliganji gets across to put in an excellent block on a Harry Wilson shot. That's great defending from the big Iranian centre back. That chance again came from link up play with Kieffer Moore - Wales' best player in this half for my money.

10:41 AM

'Midfield is the problem for Wales'

Sam Dean at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium

The midfield is the problem for Wales at the moment. There's no real sense of control or structure in there, and Iran have been able to slice through the centre of the pitch far too easily. I wouldn't be surprised if Joe Allen comes on soon, because Ethan Ampadu needs some help in there.

10:39 AM

38 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Wales attack has been a little one dimensional, with their best chance coming from a great cross from Roberts for Moore. I can't remember another, similar ball from them in this entire half. That feel like an avenue they need to explore more.

Wales' Gareth Bale in action with Iran's Ahmad Noorollahi, Ramin Rezaeian and Ali Gholizadeh - Reuters
Wales' Gareth Bale in action with Iran's Ahmad Noorollahi, Ramin Rezaeian and Ali Gholizadeh - Reuters

10:37 AM

35 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Rodon is under pressure as Azmoun - who appears to have shaken off his knock - races after a ball over the top. Ben Davies assists with the clearance but that simple ball over the top has been a real thorn in the side of Wales in this first half.

10:34 AM

33 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Danny Gabbidon on BBC commentary wants Wales to try and look after possession a bit more and you've got to say he's right. The pace of this game is frantic, with neither side dominant in possession for any amount of time. It appears this style suits Iran better than Wales.

10:30 AM

29 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Kieffer Moore continues to be a great outlet for Wales. This time his flick on finds Bale who takes on an audacious volley. It says plenty about his standing that I was disappointed he didn't hit the target there.

Wales' Kieffer Moore, left, and Iran's Majid Hosseini go for a header during the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AP
Wales' Kieffer Moore, left, and Iran's Majid Hosseini go for a header during the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AP

10:29 AM

Player ratings

Nearly 30 mins gone here. What do you make of the performances of both sides?

10:28 AM

27 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Azmoun, who has looked dangerous in his link-up play with Taremi, is down and receiving treatment. Wales will not be sorry to see the back of him if injury does force him off.

10:26 AM

Let us know your thoughts

Who will win this one?

10:24 AM

23 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Neco Williams wants foul for a robust challenge on the right by Rezaeian. This game has been full blooded so far. You can feel the desperation of both sides.

Neco Williams of Wales reacts during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images
Neco Williams of Wales reacts during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images

10:22 AM

'A much tougher test'

Jeremy Wilson at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium

First 15 minutes of Iran v Wales had suggested that the USA will be a much tougher test later this evening for England than Iran. Wales were on front foot and in control of possession after being outplayed for long periods against USA. And then Iran suddenly counter-attacked and cut Wales wide open, with only VAR coming to their rescue.

10:19 AM

18 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Wales got away with one there and now must take advantage. Free kick in a dangerous area on the right byline. Harry Wilson stands over it.

10:17 AM

Or is it?

Gholizadeh was offside as he tapped the ball in! Wales survive.

10:15 AM

GOOOOAAAALLLL

IRAN LEAD.

Poor play from Wales opens to door for Iran who work it cleverly to create an opening for Gholizadeh.

He wheels away in celebration thinking he's scored....but wait.

Iran's midfielder #17 Ali Gholizadeh scores a goal which was later disallowed after a VAR review during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AFP
Iran's midfielder #17 Ali Gholizadeh scores a goal which was later disallowed after a VAR review during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AFP

10:13 AM

12 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Plenty going on here. First it's a huge chance for Moore who gets on the end of a great ball from Roberts but his volley is straight at Hosseini.

Moore has got a boot in the face for his trouble and looks to be bleeding fairly badly.

Hossein Hosseini saves a shot by Wales' forward #13 Kieffer Moore during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AFP
Hossein Hosseini saves a shot by Wales' forward #13 Kieffer Moore during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AFP

10:10 AM

10 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

The frantic pace of this game appears to suit the Iranians and Wales are just trying to take the sting out of things. Lovely movement from Aaron Ramsey is spotted by Ethan Ampadu but the former's subsequent pass can't find Moore in the box.

10:08 AM

7 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Decent chance for Azmoun as Iran pick up a 50/50 ball in midfield and work an overlap. His shot is weak though and doesn't test Hennessey.

10:07 AM

6 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Pressure on Wales early here. Plenty of dangerous balls going into the box and a couple of panicky clearances. This already looks like a different Iran to the one we saw against England.

Wales' midfielder #10 Aaron Ramsey (L) fights for the ball with Iran's defender #03 Ehsan Hajsafi during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran - AFP
Wales' midfielder #10 Aaron Ramsey (L) fights for the ball with Iran's defender #03 Ehsan Hajsafi during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran - AFP

10:06 AM

5 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

Iran answer back with a couple of decent dinked balls over the Wales back line. Taremi and Azmoun put pressure on Mepham but he does well to clear the danger.

10:03 AM

3 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

First effort on goal is from Wales. Kieffer Moore gets the flick on for Harry Wilson, who then feeds Neco Williams. He cuts in on his right and takes on an ambitious effort but can't keep it down.

Neco Williams in action with Iran's Ahmad Noorollahi - Reuters
Neco Williams in action with Iran's Ahmad Noorollahi - Reuters

10:02 AM

'High emotion'

Jeremy Wilson at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium

Iran players singing the national anthem today after the silence on Monday, but jeering around the stadium and high emotion among their fans with some in tears.

10:00 AM

0 min: Wales 0-0 Iran

It's Wales who gets us underway in around 30C heat here. The conditions will favour the Iranians surely.

09:57 AM

The Iranians are singing

The Iran players are singing their anthem this time. There is a fair amount of jeering in the crowd though. Tough to know whether that's coming from the Wales fans or the Iranians fans themselves.

09:55 AM

Excellent Welsh support

Land Of My Fathers being belted out here. Hairs up on neck stuff...

Wales supporters sing the national anthem at the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AFP
Wales supporters sing the national anthem at the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - AFP

09:53 AM

Here come the sides

Just under 10 minutes to go until kick off at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium and the teams are in the tunnel. There's a sea of red behind the goal at one end but there are a few empty seats as well.

09:49 AM

The view from the press box

09:41 AM

'Strange coincidence, or something deeper?'

Sam Dean at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium

This World Cup has started in the same way for Wales as last year's European Championship. A 1-1 draw in the opening game, followed by a match against a team that had been thrashed in their first fixture. Strange coincidence, or something deeper? Wales will be hoping it's the latter: against Turkey in their second game last year, they produced a stunning performance, winning 2-0 in Baku.

09:39 AM

Goals, goals, goals

The importance of Iran’s defensive rigidity is underlined by the fact that they have not scored more than two goals in their last nine matches. If this is going to be a side that ships goals, they simply do not have the attacking pedigree to make up the difference. At least Wales hope they don’t…

Iran players during the warm up before the match - Reuters
Iran players during the warm up before the match - Reuters

09:36 AM

Concussion protocols followed

Jeremy Wilson at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium

Good to see Iran manager Carlos Queiroz resisting any temptation to start goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand following his "serious concussion" in the match four days ago against England. Fifa guidance stipulates at least six days between a concussion and another match but, unlike their stance with the OneLove armband, it is not backed up by any disciplinary sanction. At the last World Cup, Morocco simply ignored the guidance and allowed Nordin Amrabat to play only five days after a concussion. Fifa had been in touch with the Iran federation this week to make it clear that Beiranvand should not play but the final decision rested with the Iran staff.

09:26 AM

Stadium attendance

Plenty of attention will be on the stands ahead of this one. Attendances have been a little disappointing in Qatar thus far, with empty seats pretty evident at at least two of yesterday’s matches. For Wales’ first match at this very venue the official attendance was a respectable 43,000. Puzzling considering the stadium itself only holds 40,000. But hey, I’m not in stadium management so clearly I’m missing something.

Wales fans in the stands ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - PA
Wales fans in the stands ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - PA
Wales fans show their support prior to the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - PA
Wales fans show their support prior to the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - PA
An Iran fan is pictured inside the stadium before the match - Reuters
An Iran fan is pictured inside the stadium before the match - Reuters

09:23 AM

More flags removed

It appears any flags which even attempt to make any kind of statement are being removed from Iranian fans. A policy very much in line with security service's attitude towards the rainbow emblem.

A fan inside the stadium holds up an Iran fan with a black cross - Reuters
A fan inside the stadium holds up an Iran fan with a black cross - Reuters
A police officer inspects Iran flags covered with a cross held by Iran fans inside the stadium - Reuters
A police officer inspects Iran flags covered with a cross held by Iran fans inside the stadium - Reuters
A police officer inspects Iran flags covered with a cross held by Iran fans inside the stadium - Reuters
A police officer inspects Iran flags covered with a cross held by Iran fans inside the stadium - Reuters

09:19 AM

Wales need a win...quickly

The Welsh form coming into this one is something to note. Rob Page’s side are without a win in their last five matches in all competitions, their last victory coming in their vital World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in Cardiff in June. A corner needs to be turned, and quickly, if they have intentions of making serious noise at this World Cup.

Rob Page, Head Coach of Wales, applauds fans prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images
Rob Page, Head Coach of Wales, applauds fans prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images

09:12 AM

Anthem question

Remember, the Iranian side made their own stance on the issue clear ahead of their game against England by refusing to sing their nation's national anthem. That will be something to watch again ahead of this one.

09:11 AM

Iranian protest

Members of the travelling Iranian support have arrived holding shirts and flags in protest of the killing Mahsa Amini, the Iranian women who died after being beaten during her arrest in September. It appears Qatari security have attempted to quell those protests.

ns hold up a shirt with the name of Mahsa Amini and a flag advocating for women's rights during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images
ns hold up a shirt with the name of Mahsa Amini and a flag advocating for women's rights during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images
Fans hold up a shirt with the name of Mahsa Amini and a flag advocating for women's rights during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images
Fans hold up a shirt with the name of Mahsa Amini and a flag advocating for women's rights during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images
Security staff speak with fans holding up a shirt with the name of Mahsa Amini and a flag advocating for women's rights during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Security staff speak with fans holding up a shirt with the name of Mahsa Amini and a flag advocating for women's rights during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Security staff speak with fans holding up a shirt with the name of Mahsa Amini and a flag advocating for women's rights during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images
Security staff speak with fans holding up a shirt with the name of Mahsa Amini and a flag advocating for women's rights during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Getty Images

09:02 AM

Beiranvand injury

Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand received a nasty head injury in the opening stanzas of his side’s game against England. His efforts to stay on the field were pretty laughable considering his condition and real scrutiny has been placed on both the Iranian medical team and Fifa for even entertaining the possibility he could continue. He was eventually replaced and will is expected to play no part today as he is in concussion protocols. He's sported quite the facial accessory in training this week.

Hossein Hosseini is expected to replace him between the sticks.

Iran's goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand collides with Iran's Majid Hosseini, right, during the World Cup group B soccer match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium - AP
Iran's goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand collides with Iran's Majid Hosseini, right, during the World Cup group B soccer match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium - AP
Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand wears a face mask during a training session of the Iranian team in Doha, Qatar - Shutterstock
Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand wears a face mask during a training session of the Iranian team in Doha, Qatar - Shutterstock

08:59 AM

Iran confirmed XI

Carlos Queiroz makes five changes from the side who lost to England Hosseini, Rezaeian, Gholizadeh, Ezatolahi and Azmoun all come in. Beiranvand, Moharrami, Jahanbakhsh, Cheshmi and Karimi are the ones to drop out.

Hossein Hosseini
Rezaeian
Pouraliganji
Majid Hosseini
Mohammadi
Gholizadeh
Noorollahi
Ezatolahi
Hajsafi
Azmoun
Taremi

Subs: Beiranvand, Moharrami, Khalilzadeh, Jahanbakhsh, Ansarifard, Amiri, Niazmand, Kanaani, Ghoddos, Cheshmi, Torabi, Karimi, Abedzadeh, Jalali.

08:54 AM

Wales confirmed XI

Kieffer Moore does start in place of Dan James. That is only change Rob Page has made from the side which drew with USA

Hennessey
Mepham
Rodon
Ben Davies
Roberts
Ramsey
Ampadu
Wilson
Neco Williams
Bale
Moore

Subs: Gunter, Allen, Johnson, Ward, Morrell, Lockyer, Jonathan Williams, Harris,

08:49 AM

Moore pushing to start

After his performance against USA in the second half you’d have to imagine Kieffer Moore is pushing for a place in Rob Page's starting XI today. He offered a focal point for Wales’ attacking line, something which allowed Gareth Bale more space and a greater ability to influence proceedings. Looking at Monday’s side, Dan James might be the one to make way but that is all to be revealed.

Kieffer Moore of Wales arrives at the stadium prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Fifa
Kieffer Moore of Wales arrives at the stadium prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - Fifa

08:27 AM

Good morning

Welcome to day six of the World Cup in Qatar and it’s Wales we focus on this morning as they get set to face Iran.

Both sides come into this game in dire need of a positive result if they harbour any ambitions of getting beyond the group stages and with the remaining Group B sides - England and USA - facing off later, this is their chance to make a statement.

While many Welsh fans will perhaps be disappointed that their side could not go on and beat USA in their opening match on Monday, 1-1 was probably a fair result on balance.

Rob Page’s side struggled to establish themselves in the first half, going a goal behind to a Timothy Weah goal with talisman Gareth Bale looking somewhat out of sorts.

However, cometh the hour, cometh the man. Despite an underwhelming overall display, Bale stepped up and scored a vital second-half penalty which rewarded good Welsh work after the break.

While not ideal, a draw was far from disastrous for the men in red and they now have the chance to set up a grandstand clash with England next Tuesday should they come out of this one with three points.

At the other end of the spectrum, Iran did endure a disastrous day at office on Monday. A loss to England was expected but a 6-2 thumping was not.

Billed as a well-drilled defensive side with a limited but at least present attacking edge, Iran proved far too porous and were thoroughly exposed by a quality England performance.

Carlos Queiroz will be looking for his side to return to the sort of form that saw them defeat Uruguay in a pre-tournament friendly in September.

Striker Medhi Taremi was billed as Iran’s big attacking threat coming into this tournament, so his brace against England was at least evidence that he is in a goalscoring mood.

The question then becomes whether Iran can do the business at the defensive end to make sure his efforts truly count.

Full team news is expected from 9am.