WALES are on the brink of elimination after two goals in stoppage time gave Iran the victory they deserved.
Wayne Hennessey’s goal led a charmed life against Carlos Queiroz’s superior side who hit both posts and had a goal ruled out by the VAR.
Rouzbeh Cheshmi broke Wales’ hearts with his 99th-minute winnerRichard Pelham / The Sun
Ramin Rezaeian sealed all three points with a delicate dink three minutes laterRichard Pelham / The Sun
Wayne Hennessey was sent off for clattering Mehdi TaremiReuters
There was no doubt in the referee’s mind after watching the replayRichard Pelham / The Sun
The Dragons were understandably gutted at full-timeRichard Pelham / The Sun
And then the veteran keeper saw red late on as he came dashing out of his area and almost took Mehdi Taremi’s head off with a wild challenge.
But with the ten-man Dragons completely stretched sub Rouzbeh Cheshmi capitalised on an error by Joe Allen to smash home from 20 yards.
And that was quickly followed by a second as Razmin Rezaeian rounded off a quick break with a cool finish.
Wales players collapsed on the floor due to the heat and effort they had put in but they know their World Cup dream is all but over.
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Just like on Monday against USA, Wales were second best in the first half – although they did have the first big chance.
Kieffer Moore stretched out a leg to get on the end of Connor Roberts’ cross from the right but fired his shot straight at the keeper.
The big Bournemouth striker was restored to the team after his impressive cameo on Monday but did not get the service he needs to thrive.
The Dragons got away with one as Ali Gholizadeh capitalised on an error from Roberts and linked up with Sardar Azmoun to score.
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VAR came to the rescue as the Charleroi forward had drifted into an offside position before walking the ball in.
And there were more lucky escapes after the break as Azmoun raced clear but planted his shot against the outside of the post.
The rebound fell to Gholizadeh who drifted in before hitting the opposite post with a lovely 20-yard curler.
Azmoun was first to the rebound but incredibly headed straight at Hennessey.
At the other end, Gareth Bale’s cross landed on Moore’s head but the striker was under pressure and looped his effort onto the roof of the net.
Page threw on Dan James and Brennan Johnson to try to inject some new life into Wales just before the hour.
It was a statement of intent from the Dragons boss who knew this was the best chance of claiming a victory.
Yet they still struggled to fashion many clear-cut chances like the ones at the other end where Saeid Ezatolahi’s low shot pushed around the post by Hennessey’s fingertips.
One good chance at the other end saw Hossein Hosseini tip over a shot from Ben Davies after good work by Moore.
But Hennessey’s reckless tackle to deny Taremi as he burst clear was upgraded to a yellow to red by the Guatemalan referee and the Dragons were left clinging on.
Aaron Ramsey was sacrificed to allow Danny Ward to come on and take his place in goal.
Sub Allen’s rushed clearance only reached Cheshmi who thumped a superb low shot into the corner from 20 yards.
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It sparked wild celebrations and there were more a couple of minutes later as they broke clear down the left and Rezaeian lifted the ball over Ward.
Wales go into their final game with England knowing they need snookers.
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ReutersSoccer Football – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Group B – Wales v Iran – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar – November 25, 2022 Iran coach Carlos Queiroz celebrates with the players after the match REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli[/caption]
The red wall was out in full voice in the baking heatRichard Pelham / The Sun
Ali Gholizadeh’s goal was ruled out for offsideRichard Pelham / The Sun
Neco Williams took a whack in the first halfRichard Pelham / The Sun
It was a painful watch for Rob Page in the dugoutRichard Pelham / The Sun
Wales know they must beat England to have any chance of getting through to the knockout stagesRichard Pelham / The Sun