Well, that was intense. Congratulations to Iran, commiserations to wales – but it’s still up for grabs in Group B. I’ll leave you with Ben Fisher’s report from the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, and don’t forget to join Tom Davies for Qatar v Senegal at 1pm. Bye!
And that’s how to lose gracefully
“I’m just one simple Iranian-American fan of Team Melli,” says Mehrun Etebari, “but I think I must speak for many others when I say that wales remain an inspiration. If Iran can go forward and put together a run even half as compelling as the Welsh run to the semis of Euro 2016 I’ll be ecstatic. Smaller teams live for the hope, and Wales showed that sometimes that hope can be rewarded.”
Now that’s how to win gracefully.
“Watching the first half I turned to my mate and said ‘this has Scotland written all over it’,” says Kerr Wells. “Heroic, disappointing, ‘what might have been’ elimination. stand by for wales to beat England to add to the folklore.”
With Iran scoring a 104th-minute winner against the US to put Wales out.
The BBC are showing a montage of Iran putting it about. There were a few bits of naughtiness – standing on Kieffer Moore’s toe at a corner, things like that – and it’s probably fair to assume that a European referee would have given one or two more yellow cards. But it was hardly England 1972 (berlin branch) or Brazil 1974, and it doesn’t change the essential truth: the best team won.
There is a not inconceivable way that wales can qualify (I think)
England beat the USA
The USA draw with Iran
Wales beat England B
Wayne Hennessey’s red card
It’s just the beginning, we need to finish the job. It was a wonderful day for us – we [stuck] to football, and I don’t have words to say thank you to the players. They were brilliant, they deserve all the respect. People will now understand that these boys love to play football.
[What’s your message to the Iranian people?] The players, they deserve to be supported. We did it for them, we did it for them. That’s the only reason we’re here, to play for the fans.
I assume he’s referring to the fact that the players chose to sing the national anthem before the game. For any team, never mind one whose country is experiencing civil unrest, they played with phenomenal intensity.
“Can’t begrudge them,” says Matt Dony. “The better team won. There’ll always be a ‘what if’ around Moore’s volley in the first half, but it wasn’t to be. It’s still wales at the World Chuffing Cup, which is more than I dream of for most of my life.”
It’s gutting [boings his lips]. We’re gutted, there’s no other way to say it. It’s difficult to take but we have to recover and try and go again.
It’s gonna be difficult [to qualify] for sure, it depends on the other game. I haven’t seen the red card so I don’t know [if it was a fair decision]but it changes the game completely.
What it all means
Wales aren’t out, but they need snookers now. Iran will almost certainly go through if they beat the USA and may well do so with a draw, though that depends on what happens between England and the USA tonight.
Let’s be clear: Iran were deserved winners. They were the stronger team even before Wayne Hennessey was sent off, and kept playing with purpose and belief even when it looked like time was up. They scored in the 98th and 101st minutes, shattering the wales players in the process.
I don’t know what to say.
Wales threw everyone forward and paid the price. It was a four-on-two break, finished delightfully by the relentless, indefatigable right-back Ramin Rezaeian. Ansarifard put him through with a square pass on the edge of the area; he drew Ward and lifted the ball slowly, teasingly, joyfully over him. In the circumstances, that is some finish.
It’s all over now!
Devastation for Wales, and sheer, frenzied joy for Iran. A low cross from the left wasn’t dealt with properly by Joe Allen – the kind of absent-minded clearance you’d expect from somebody who has been on all game in that heat, but not necessarily from a substitute – and ran to Cheshmi , 25 yards from goal. He half-controlled it on the stretch, ran after the loose ball and whistled a brilliant curling shot towards goal. It brushed the fingertips of the diving Ward, who saw it late and was at full stretch, and nestled in the bottom-right corner. My word.
What a goal from Rouzbeh Sheshmi!
90+7 mins All the players who started the game look completely spent, physically and emotionally.
90+6 mins Neco Williams’ mishit shot almost falls for Johnson at one end; then Rezaeian’s shot is blocked by Davies at the other.
90+6 mins Jahanbakhsh is booked a high challenge on Mepham; it’s his second yellow so he’ll miss the USA game. It also allows wales to waste another 30 seconds.
90+5 mins Rezaeian is booked for dissent.
90+4 mins Now James is crowded just inside the Iran half. These dead seconds are precious for wales. Davies eventually drives the free-kick into the area and Hosseini – the replacement goalkeeper who has been terrific – claims decisively.
90+3 mins And if you want to know more about the man Wayne Hennessey inadvertently homaged with that assault on Taremi, Gary Naylor is your friend.
90+2 mins The resulting free-kick is eventually fed in towards Moore, in a bit of space in the area, but his first touch is a weary one that runs through to Hosseini. There was a sniff of a chance there.
90+2 mins Moore, who must be utterly shattered, does superbly to hold the ball up, draw a foul and buy wales a bit of time.
90+1 mins There will be nine added minutes. wales are on the ropes, the brink, the edge; the lot.
90 mins As my colleague Daniel Harris rather brilliantly puts it: Hell, bloody football.
89 min: So close from Torabi! This is unreal. Ansarifard has a shot blocked, then Torabi smashes a rising drive from the edge of the area that goes this far wide of the right-hand post.
88 mins: wales substitution The sub goalkeeper Danny Ward replaces Aaron Ramsey.
86 mins It looks worse every time you see it. He could have been sent off twice: once for the denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity and once for poleaxing Taremi with what was essentially a knee to the face. He launched into a scissor kick, thinking he was going to get to the bouncing ball a split-second before Taremi. He was wrong.
“Shades of Schumacher” says the BBC commentator Steve Wilson. Unlike Harald Schumacher in 1982, Hennessey was going for the ball – but he didn’t get it and he flattened Taremi with a combination of knee, hip and arm. Even Andre the Giant would have gone down from that.
Hennessey will be sent off here.
84 mins: It’s all kicking off! Taremi just beats Hennessey to a long ball forward, 40 yards from goal, and is totally wiped out. The referee gives a yellow card, which can only be because he thought Neco Williams would have got to the loose ball before Taremi. Personally I think it’s a clear goalscoring opportunity. More importantly so do the entire Iran team, who are raging at the referee.
83 mins: Good save from Hosseini! Williams’ long-range shot is unwittingly blocked by Moore, but he is alert enough to lay the loose ball off to Davies on the edge of the area. He crashes a rising drive that is pushed over by the leaping Hosseini. A good save, though one he’d expect to make.
83 mins: Iran substitution And now they have none, unless the game goes to extra time: Ezatolahi is replaced by Ali Karimi.
82 mins Ezatolahi is down with cramp. Iran have one substitution remaining.
80 mins Gareth Bale has done nothing. No. Zilch. The square root of bugger all. If I was an Iran supporter, the ‘it’s too darned quiet’ principle would be haunting me.
79 mins “It says something about how stressed the wales fans at the stadium must be,” begins Kári Tulinius, “that they loudly applauded winning a throw-in near the half-way line. Enjoy the last twenty minutes!”
78 mins: wales substitution Joe Allen, who has been out since mid-September, comes on for Ethan Ampadu.
78 min: Triple substitution for Iran After a lot of faffing, Ali Jahanbakhsh, Mehdi Torabi and Rouzbeh Cheshmi replace Gholidazeh, Hajisafi and Nourollahi.
75 mins For most of the game Iran have played on the break, but at the moment they are all over wales like a cheap cliche. If Gareth Bale is going to write another script, now would be a decent time.
74 mins “A draw is ok,” pleads Matt Mony. “If this finishes even, and assuming England beat the USA, then England are guaranteed to go through as group winners. Meaning they could play a weaker team in the last game, with a Gijon-esque lack of intensity. Is it how I dreamed wales would go through? No. Would I take it? Absolutely!”
73 mins: Fine save by Hennessey! Wales are right on the edge here. Ezatolahi shifts the ball away from a wales player in the D and sweeps a low, right-footed drive towards the far corner. Hennessey, who must have seen it late, gets down to his right and fingertips it round the post. That’s an extremely good stop.
72 mins Gholizadeh’s cross is shinned behind by Rodon. The corner is taken short and eventually comes to Pouraliganji, whose shot is blocked.
71 mins Ezatolahi’s angled cross beyond the far post is headed down by Pouraliganji, still up from a corner, and Hennessey is quick off his line to claim. wales look tired now.
70 mins Sheesh, this is tense. If it stays like this the winners will be the USA, though it’s pretty complicated. A draw isn’t the end of the world, or the WorldCup.
69 mins Reorder these letters: SFF.
68 mins: Iran substitution Karim Ansarifard replaces Sardar Azmoun, who has run himself into the ground.
67 mins Johnson slows down in the area, then zips past Mohammadi and drives a low cross towards the near post. Bale misses an attempted flick behind his standing leg and Iran clear.
That was good from Johnson, exactly the kind of no-nonsense running wales want from him and James.