Two late goals secured Iran a sensational 2-0 win over Wales to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the World Cup alive.
Rouzbeh Cheshmi scored from long range and gave Iran a brilliant lead in the 98th minute, while Ramin Rezaeian sealed victory in the 101st minute to give Iran their first points of the tournament.
Both goals came after Welsh goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was sent off in the second half for a hasty foul outside his box, becoming the first player in the tournament to be shown a red card.
Iran created the better chances and were a deserved winner in a tense game as both teams needed wins to increase their chances of progressing to Group B.
Iran’s players joined in singing the national anthem before the game, while boos rang out at Qatar’s Ahmed bin Ali Stadium.
During the playing of the national anthems ahead of Iran’s opening game against England on Monday, Iranian players remained silent in what was widely interpreted as a show of solidarity with protesters at home.
Iran are appearing at this World Cup in the shadow of domestic turmoil, with the game coming a day after United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said the country was mired in a “full-blown human rights crisis”. while the authorities are cracking down on dissidents who are critical of the regime.
Protests, described by experts as the most significant since the establishment of clerical rule after the Iranian revolution of 1979, and violence have rocked Iran in recent months, threatening the very nature of the country’s regime, which has been in power for more than 40 years power is .
It was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being arrested by Iran’s vice squad, allegedly for not conforming to the country’s conservative dress code. Iranian security forces have unleashed a violent response.
After the bitter 6-2 defeat against England, Iran played much better in the second game.
The result was scoreless at the break after a nervous opening 45 minutes on a muggy day at Al Rayyan. Wales striker Kieffer Moore had the best chance of the half and somehow headed wide.
Although Ali Gholizadeh thought he had given Iran the lead, the video assistant referee (VAR) ruled the goal offside.
Iran star Sardar Azmoun hit the post twice early in the second half as Iran set the pace and Wales rode their luck and it looked like both teams would share a point before Cheshmi struck the opener – which sent the Iranian fans to celebrate and the goal dampened the Welsh contingent.