Iran's national soccer team celebrated an acclaimed last-minute victory at the World Cup in Qatar under great political and sporting pressure. Coach Carlos Queiroz's team won Friday's second group match against Wales 2-0 (0-0) thanks to goals from Roozbeh Cheshmi and Ramin Rezaeian in the eighth and eleventh minute of injury time. Welsh goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey saw a red card in the 86th minute after an emergency stop outside the box against Mehdi Taremi.
Both teams still have chances to advance. In front of 40,875 spectators in Al-Rajjan's Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, the Iranian players didn't remain silent this time during the national anthem, but visibly moved their lips with serious expressions. Most whistles in the arena fell silent as the video wall showed a heartbreakingly crying elderly fan holding an Iranian flag.
Ali Gholizadeh had Iran fans cheering for his goal after 15 minutes, but the goal was ruled offside following a video evidence decision. The Welsh had drawn 1-1 against the USA in their first group game. The 2016 European Championship semi-finalist got into a hectic rush against the Iranians from the start. Leverkusen's Sardar Azmoun also kept the opposing defense busy. He and fellow striker Gholizadeh each hit the post within seconds of the break.
Wales superstar Bale, on the other hand, went under for almost the entire game. In the end it got hectic. Hennessey saw the red card because he was clearly late against Taremi with a straight leg - a clear red card. Referee Mario Escobar added nine minutes of stoppage time. The Iranians tried everything again - and were rewarded very late.