Rouzbeh Cheshmi, an Iranian replacement, scored the game’s first goal with a stunning 25-yard curling shot into the top corner. Iran counterattacked in the eleventh minute of stoppage time, and Ramin Rezaeian finished expertly to secure the 2-0 victory as Wales continued to press for an equalizer. Cheshmi, who received the game’s player of the match award, later claimed that the team’s efforts and God’s assistance were responsible for the victory.
The Iranian team did sing the national anthem before playing Wales, albeit hesitantly, which some observers attributed to Voria Ghafouri’s arrest the day before for allegedly spreading propaganda. Ghafouri is a former member of the national team who has been outspoken in his criticism of the government. Many saw Ghafouri’s detention as a demand that the team submit to their will.
Whatever the case, Iran seemed different after England humiliated them. They started out in a fast-paced manner, harrying out of possession, being threatening from dead-ball situations, and unleashing lightning-quick counterattacks.
Iran’s first-half team goal was narrowly overturned for offside, and in the second half, they struck the post twice. After that, Iran striker Mehdi Taremi was killed by Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey as he was heading toward the goal.
After the first game, we returned to our roots and played with a sense of coherence and oneness, Queiroz told reporters. This was an opportunity to halt the bleeding and regain credibility.
The loudest advocates of Iran may be in Qatar, but disagreements were severe. Nearly half of the arriving out-of-town spectators are connected to the Iranian Football Federation and as a result are buying tickets through them, making them more likely to support the government. Then there were the tens of thousands of supporters from the vibrant Iranian diaspora, many of whom were visible wearing T-shirts denouncing Amini’s passing.
Group B looks incredibly tight. Iran memorably put the U.S. out of the 1998 World Cup with a 2-1 thrashing.
“Everything is open in the group,” Quieroz told reporters afterward. “What is important is that we have our goals and dreams in our hands.”