Iran vs Wales: Iran wins in stoppage time

Outsiders Iran kept their chances of qualifying for the World Cup Round of 16 in Group B with a 2-0 win over Wales. / Iran vs Wales: Iran wins in stoppage time

The “Dragons” disappointed and are facing the end. / Iran vs Wales: Iran wins in stoppage time

Iran’s footballers kept their dream of reaching the knockout stages of a World Cup for the first time alive with a passionate performance. They came to a late 2-0 (0-0) win against Wales on Friday (25.11.2022) at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan.

After the 6-2 debacle against England, the Iranians improved enormously and were initially unlucky that an offside goal was ruled out and the post came in the way twice. Both goals came in injury time.

Iran coach Queiroz: “Job not finished yet”

Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey saw the red card in the closing stages for a foul play (86th minute). Captain Gareth Bale’s team is now on the brink of extinction, the “Dragons” only have one point in Group B.

“It will be very difficult, we have one game left. We need to recover well and then give everything again,” said Bale. Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz tried to capture the euphoria in his team: “We haven’t finished our job yet. Everything is open in this group,” he said. “We wanted to give gifts to the Iranian fans – and we want to do that again.”

In the group final next Tuesday (29.11.2022/8 p.m. live on Wales meets England in a “brother duel”, Iran plays at the same time against the political archenemy USA.

Iranian players sing anthem

In view of the protests against the mullahs’ regime in Iran that have been going on for more than two months, all eyes were once again on the underdog’s players even before kick-off: Would they refuse to sing along to the national anthem again, as they did against England?

No, all the players, including Leverkusen’s Sardar Azmoun, who had shown solidarity with the protesters at home before the World Cup, at least moved their lips.

Gholizadeh offside – Iran’s goal doesn’t count

In terms of sport, Queiroz’s team showed itself to be significantly improved. The Portuguese coach made a total of four changes to the starting XI and this was instrumental in the Iranians combining well and getting a lot more of the game initially.

However, a goal by Ali Gholizadeh was disallowed because the Belgian player was ruled offside after a one-two with Azmoun (16′).

Hosseini thwarts Moore chance

Four minutes earlier, Kieffer Moore had let the raucous Welsh fans in the stadium take a deep breath. The Bournemouth striker, also a new start after the 1-1 draw with USA, leapt foot-first into a perfect Connor Roberts cross from the right.

Iran goalkeeper Seyed Hosseini thwarted the chance with a brilliant act. The actual number one, Alireza Beiranvand, who suffered a concussion early on against England, saw it through his face mask with benevolence.

The game remained intense in the second part of the first half, but there were few scenes in the penalty area. It was only in injury time that there was more excitement in front of the Welsh goal when Azmoun narrowly missed a cross from the half field (45+2).

Double chance Iran – the posts are in the way

Iran were still in control after the restart, and once again the focus was on the offensive duo Azmoun/Gholizadeh. A double chance in the 52nd minute saw Welsh goalkeeper Hennessey already beaten, but Azmoun was initially blocked by the right post. On the second attempt, Gholizadeh’s shot from 18 meters landed on the left edge of the goal. Azmoun had to leave the field after a good hour due to a left leg injury.

His colleagues continued to fight for their chance to stay in the tournament. Saeid Ezatolahi narrowly missed the Welsh goal (72′). The Welsh only woke up in the closing stages. In the 83rd minute, the powerful Iranian substitute keeper Hosseini deflected Ben Davies’ long-range shot over the crossbar.

Wales keeper Hennessey sees red

Almost in return, then the first real fair play excitement. The Welsh goalkeeper brutally rammed a stretched-legged Mehdi Taremi at chest height from far outside the penalty area.

Referee Mario Escobar from Guatemala first pulled out the yellow card, but corrected himself after the intervention of the video assistants and sent Hennessey off the field with the first dismissal of the tournament (86th).

Scorer Chesmi: “Victory of solidarity”

In the end, however, the Iranians rewarded themselves for their self-sacrificing struggle with two goals in added time. Rouzbeh Cheshmi crafted a long-range shot from 20 meters flat into the right corner (90+8).

After that, the pressure of the past few days erupted in “Team Melli” in the jubilation – especially when Ramin Rezaeian went one better after a counterattack (90+11). “Today we were mentally ready. It was a victory for solidarity,” said goalscorer Chesmi.

Sang the anthem this time

Iran’s national team had boycotted the anthem before the first game – but today the players sang along. You must have been accused of being a “Team Mullah” at home for a long time.

The Iranian national team may not be the most successful at the World Cup in Qatar – but many consider it the bravest. Because before the opening game against England, she dared to remain silent during the national anthem in solidarity with the anti-regime protests at home. At least since then, the players should be under massive pressure.

And they don’t seem to have withstood it: in tonight’s game, you don’t really hear anyone fervently singing along in the stadium – like you did with the Wales national anthem a few minutes earlier. But the Iranian players at least move their lips more or less. Their faces are petrified as the Iranian anthem plays.

One player’s arm is easy to read: “Love me for who I am.” The only statement that can be seen on the field at the moment.

Bitter tears flow in the stands of the stadium. Before kick-off, folders had taken a banner from a fan. One of the most important slogans of the demonstrators at home in Iran was written on it: women, life, freedom.

In Iran against the protests continue

Meanwhile, the protests continue in the country: They are thirsty for the blood of the leaders, they shout at a demonstration in Zahedan in the south-east this morning. Football and the World Cup in Qatar is not an issue for most people these days.

Human rights organizations say at least 400 people have died since mid-September, including 40 children. Demonstrators are said to be tortured and raped in the prisons. At least six are sentenced to death. The Human Rights Commission of the United Nations (UN) decided yesterday in Geneva to have human rights violations investigated.

In his response to the UN resolution, which Germany helped introduce, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdollahian spoke of the Berlin regime playing domestic political games. That should refer to the demonstration in Berlin last month. 80,000 participants had expressed their solidarity with the protests and some also wanted to put pressure on the federal government.

Was Ghafouri’s arrest a warning?

None of this seems to impress the regime in Tehran. Voria Ghafouri was arrested yesterday. The Kurd and former Iranian national soccer player regularly criticizes the government and also attends the funerals of the victims of the protests. He was not nominated for the World Cup in Qatar.

Many see his arrest just a day before Iran’s second World Cup game as a warning to his teammates, who were allowed to fly. It could be the same for them when they return to Iran.

“Team Melli” became “Team Mullah”

But maybe they were just disappointed with the reaction of the demonstrators to their silence at the anthem before the first game. Instead of sympathy, they earn ridicule.

The nickname of the Iran national team is “Team Melli”. This has now become “Team Mullah” – an allusion to their visit to the ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi. The seemingly light-hearted photos of it just made many Iranians angry.

A photo online shows a man on the back of a motorcycle – probably in the streets of Tehran. He has the British flag tied around his shoulders. It’s one of the flags, along with the Israeli and US, that people usually burn at pro-regime rallies, which they angrily trample on. The man risks a lot – and sends a clear signal. The enemies of the regime are not the enemies of the people of Iran.


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