Ten-man Wales’ hopes of reaching the knockout stage of their first World Cup in 64 years suffered a major blow as Robert Page’s side were beaten 2-0 by Iran’s late, late show.
The Dragons were aiming to build upon the 1-1 stalemate with the USA first time out, but struggled to get on top against a much-improved Iran side and saw goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey sent off four minutes from time for a wild foul.
It proved decisive as stoppage time goals from substitute Rouzbeh Cheshmi and Ramin Rezaeian secured the points.
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Kieffer Moore had Wales’ best opening of the first period, but he could only volley straight at Hossein Hosseini on 12 minutes.
Iran thought they had taken the lead five minutes later, but Ali Gholizadeh’s goal was chalked off by VAR.
Carlos Queiroz's side continued to look the more likely following the interval and Sardar Azmoun and Gholizadeh both hit the woodwork in quick succession as the Wales goal lived a charmed life.
Hennessey was then forced to produce heroics before he saw a yellow card correctly upgraded to a red following intervention by VAR. The Wales keeper clattered into Mehdi Taremi way outside his penalty area as the forward looked to surge clear.

Mehdi Taremi of IR Iran is fouled by Wayne Hennessey of Wales during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 25, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. Hennessey received a yellow card on the play.

Image credit: Getty Images

Wales could not hang on and will now need to beat England in their final game on Tuesday to have any chance of qualifying. Meanwhile, Iran meet USA in their decisive final fixture.

TALKING POINT - Heartbreak for Wales

This was billed as must-win for both sides, but it was Iran who ran out worthy victors. Queiroz's side were better throughout and with a tad more fortune would have been ahead much sooner in the contest.
Wales’ big-name, but aging, stars simply couldn’t get into the game with the likes of Gareth Bale – who became his country’s most capped player on the day – and Aaron Ramsey failing to make any impact.
‘Yma o hyd, Yma o hyd’ is the chant that Wales are 'still here', but they are going to need something incredibly special to qualify from Group B and remain in Qatar beyond the middle of next week.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH - Ramin Rezaeian (Iran)

The defender capped a powerhouse display with a magnificently taken second goal to rubber-stamp an excellent day for his country.

Iran celebrate against Wales

Image credit: Getty Images

PLAYER RATINGS

WALES: Hennessey 5, Mepham 6, Rodon 6, B Davies 7; Roberts 6, Ampadu 6, Wilson 6, Ramsey 5, N Williams 6; Bale 5, Moore 5. Subs: James 5, Johnson 6, Allen 5, Ward n/a.
IRAN: Hosseini 7, Hajsafi 7, Mohammadi 7, Ezatolahi 7, Pouraliganji 7, Hosseini 7, Azmoun 7, Nourollahi 7, Rezaeian 8, Taremi 8, Gholizadeh 8. Subs: Ansarifard 6, Torabi 7, Jahanbakhsh 6, Cheshmi 7, Karimi n/a.
Matchcast: Full match stats and commentary

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

12’ – WALES CHANCE! Moore has to score. The forward is well-placed to steer a volley on target from Roberts' lovely cross, but he can only fire straight at the keeper.
45+3’ – IRAN CHANCE! Azmoun can't quite apply the finish on the stretch after getting in front of his marker to attack a wonderfully whipped cross from the right.
52’ – IRAN CHANCE! How is it still level? Azmoun races free but sees his shot come back off the near post. Iran keep the pressure on and Gholizadeh hits the opposite post with a superb curling effort before Azmoun puts the rebound straight at Hennessey.
74’ – IRAN CHANCE! Hennessey flings himself to his right to get a vital palm on Ezatolahi's low 20-yard strike.
84’ – WALES CHANCE! Wales work it well inside the Iran box and lay it back for Davies, who stings the keeper's fingertips with a thumping 20-yard drive.
87’ – WALES RED CARD. Hennessey sees a yellow card changed to red after VAR intervened and the referee looked at the monitor. It was the right decision. Taremi beat Hennessey to the ball way outside his area and the keeper clattered into him.
90+8’ – GOAL! Wales 0-1 Iran(Cheshmi): Rouzbeh Cheshmi rifles a 22-yard strike into the bottom corner following a poor clearance. Wales' hearts are broken.
90+100’ – GOAL! Wales 0-2 Iran(Ramin): It's all over. Iran catch the Dragons on the break and Ramin clips a lovely finish over Ward.

KEY STATS

  • Hennessey is only the third goalkeeper ever to receive a red card at the World Cup, after Itumeleng Khune for South Africa v Uruguay in 2010 and Gianluca Pagliuca for Italy v Norway in 1994.
  • Cheshmi's goal (97:56) against Wales was the latest match-winning strike scored in any World Cup game (excl. extra-time) since exact goal times are available for the competition (from 1966).
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