Al RAYYAN (Qatar), November 25: Iran scored twice in the stoppage time to register a thrilling 2-0 win over a 10-man Wales in their FIFA World Cup 2022 Group B match at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium.
With this win, Iran have kept their hopes alive of reaching the World Cup knockout stages.
Rouzbeh Cheshmi scored in the eighth minute of stoppage time to break a scoreless stalemate. Cheshmi’s strike from outside the box was just beyond the diving reach of Wales backup goalkeeper Danny Ward, who was pressed into duty when starter Wayne Hennessey was sent off in the 86th minute.
Hennessey received the first red card of the Qatar World Cup he was sent off for clattering into Iran’s Mehdi Taremi outside the area late in the match.
Ramin Rezaeian added a second goal moments later and Iran wildly celebrated while some of the Welsh players dropped in disbelief to the field.
Wales star Gareth Bale made his 110th appearance for his team, the most all-time for the national team.
The win moves Iran to three points in Group B, two more than Wales, who were held to a 1-1 draw by the United States in their opener, with England and the U.S. facing each other later on Friday.
The group comes to a head next Tuesday, when Wales play their old rivals and Iran face the U.S.
After a tight first half the match sprang to life after the break.
The second half began with the most extraordinary treble miss as Sardar Azmoun raced through only to strike the post, Ali Gholizadeh curled the follow-up against the other post, and Azmoun headed that rebound straight at Wales keeper Hennessey.
Hennessey rode to Wales’s rescue again in the 70th minute, tipping Saeid Ezatolahi’s low shot from distance around the post with his fingertips, but he was then given his marching orders to set up a frantic finale.
Hennessey had raced out of his area but was beaten to the ball by Taremi, with the keeper following through and catching him square in the face with his knee.
The referee initially produced a yellow card, but a trip to the VAR monitor swiftly followed and the resulting red card felt inevitable.
The goals then arrived extraordinarily late with Cheshmi hammering home a thunderbolt of a shot in a gut punch for Wales, before Rezaeian lifted the ball delicately over the keeper to finish off Rob Page’s side.
Neymar suffers ankle sprain in Brazil win
Brazil captain Neymar suffered a sprained ankle in his team’s World Cup win over Serbia on Thursday and faces a medical assessment in the next 48 hours, the national team doctor said after the match.
Doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said the Brazilian superstar suffered the injury after a collision with his opponent.
Neymar was substituted in the 79th minute of Brazil’s 2-0 win over Serbia.
“We need to wait 24 to 48 hours to have a better assessment,” Lasmar said. “We have not scheduled any MRI and tomorrow we’ll have a new assessment.
“We need to wait, we cannot make any premature comments about his evolution.”
Neymar was seen limping heavily after the game while photos of the striker showed swelling on his right ankle.
Coach Tite said the Paris Saint-Germain player initially stayed on the field after hurting his ankle “because the team needed him”.
He also moved to play down fears that the 30-year-old could face a lay-off long enough to end his World Cup campaign.
“You can be certain that Neymar is going to play in the World Cup,” he said.
A downcast-looking Neymar declined to speak to journalists as he left the stadium on Thursday.
Neymar needs just two goals to equal Pele’s all-time record tally of 77 for Brazil.
His first World Cup in 2014 ended in agony as he suffered a fractured bone in his back in Brazil’s quarter-final win over Colombia.
Without him, the hosts suffered a humiliating 7-1 defeat against Germany in the semi-finals.
Four years later Neymar had to race to recover from injury in time to be fit for the tournament in Russia, but Brazil never hit the heights expected of them as they lost to Belgium in the last eight.
The Brazilian talisman also missed the 2019 Copa America after suffering torn ligaments in his right ankle.
In 2021 Neymar missed roughly 10 weeks of the French season after suffering ligament damage to his left ankle following an injury in PSG’s victory over Saint Etienne.
(ToI With inputs from Agencies/AFP)