The second round of World Cup group stage matches kicks off this morning with Wales facing Iran in a decisive Group B match. After drawing with the United States in their opening match, Rob Page’s side knew they had to make a real win here to give themselves a realistic chance of reaching the last 16, ahead of their meeting with England next week.
Wales were poor in the first half against the USA, before Gareth Bale’s penalty saved what could have been a focal point. It was a worrying display at first, although it was improved by the introduction of Kiefer Moore at half time and he did enough to earn his place in the starting line-up here. Meanwhile, Bale would become Wales’ most capped player ever with his 110th appearance.
As for Iran, Carlos Queiroz has done his best, to no avail, to keep his focus on soccer amid attention to the protests at home. On the pitch it was really bad against England, with goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand out today. Catch all the action live below with expert analysis from Malek Ouuzia at the Ahmed Ben Ali Stadium.
It really is a tense 45 minutes for Wales. Not that they didn’t create moments in an attacking sense, having Moore up front was certainly a plus point for Rob Page’s side.
But they must control Azmoun and Tarimi, who have been a real threat to Iran across the middle, with Joe Rodon and Chris Mepham struggling. An intriguing second 45 minutes waits.
half the time
The ball bounces dangerously across the Wales six-yard box but Azmoun can’t get the decisive touch. It’s another moment for Iran that is indicative of their approach in this match, so far, as Rodon received a yellow card for a big challenge on Taremi.
Unfortunately for Iran – and fortunately from Wells’ point of view – they could not break through. Without goals in the first half.
45 minutes: Of course it’s four minutes of extra time.
If you’ve been watching on the BBC, you might have lost pictures for a minute, only then. I think it was my dodgy wifi, to be honest.
43 minutes: Hosseini caught the ball from the corner as if he were picking an apple from a tree.
Then Iran raises it towards Taremi and goes deep into Welsh territory.
42 minutes: Both teams are back in form as the half draws to a close (despite a good amount of extra time).
Wilson’s shot was deflected and Wales was awarded a corner kick.
39 minutes: Bale has moved back to his old position, left wing, in a bid to get something of a foothold in Wales. He tried to find Moore, then Williams put a pointless volley into the box. Iran defends well.
37 minutes: A good ball from Wilson to find Williams into space but then the former Liverpool youngster got a touch wrong.
Shame on Wells. That was a good move.
36 minutes: Rodon doesn’t end up causing trouble because of Azmon’s missile. Someone throw this guy a lifebelt he needs help
Iran is the first to lose the ball at the moment, without having created a big chance since the disallowed goal.
34 minutes: Moore makes another mistake, pouncing at Mohammadi’s back.
It’s impossible for Rob Page to be happy with what he’s seen so far.
33 minutes: If you’re an England fan watching this, having watched the Three Lions dismantle Iran, you won’t be particularly concerned about the prospect of facing Wales in the Group C match.
However, a tie in this one greatly benefits the United States.