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 a few more yellow cards. Even so, it doesn’t change the essential truth: the best team won.
There is a way 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 to 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 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.
“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 dreamt 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, joyously 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 cleared properly by Joe Allen and ran to the substitute 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 later and was at full stretch, and nestled in the bottom-right corner. My word.
What a goal from Rouzbeh Cheshmi!
90+7 min All the players who started the game look completely spent, physically and emotionally.
90+6 min Neco Williams’ mishit shot almost falls for Johnson at one end; then Rezaeian’s shot is blocked by Davies at the other.
90+6 min 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 min Rezaeian is booked for dissent.
90+4 min Now James is fouled 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 min 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 min 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 min 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 min There will be nine added minutes. Wales are on the ropes, the brink, the edge; the lot.
90 min 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 min: Wales substitution The sub goalkeeper Danny Ward replaces Aaron Ramsey.
86 min It looks worse every time you see it. He could have been sent off twice: one for the denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity and one for poleaxing Taremi. “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 wiped Taremi out.
Hennessey will be sent off here.
84 min: 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 to the entire Iran team, who are raging at the referee.
83 min: 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 min: Iran substitution And now they have none, unless the game goes to extra time: Ezatolahi is replaced by Ali Karimi.
82 min Ezatolahi is down with cramp. Iran have one substitution remaining.
80 min Gareth Bale has done nothing. Nada. 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 min “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 min: Wales substitition 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 min 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 min “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 min: 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 min Gholizadeh’s cross is shinned behind by Rodon. The corner is taken short and eventually comes to Pouraliganji, whose shot is blocked.
71 min 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 min 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 World Cup.
69 min Reorder these letters: SFF.
68 min: Iran substitution Karim Ansarifard replaces Sardar Azmoun, who has run himself into the ground.
67 min 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.