Iran were undefeated during qualification, but they will do well to win a game in Russia.
Iran World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide
Iran have been eliminated from the 2018 World Cup.
Iran vs Portugal (25th June) Match Report
Portugal Starting XI: 1 Rui Patricio, 3 Pepe, 5 Raphael Guerreiro, 6 Jose Fonte, 7 Cristiano Ronaldo, 9 Andre Silva (17 Goncalo Guedes 90+6), 10 Joao Mario (8 Joao Moutinho 85), 14 William Carvalho, 20 Ricardo Quaresma (11 Bernardo Silva 70), 21 Cedric, 23 Adrien Silva
Iran Starting XI: 1 Alireza Beiranvand, 2 Ehsan Hajsafi (5 Milad Mohammadi 56), 6 Saeid Ezatolahi (10 Karim Ansarifard 76), 8 Morteza Pouraliganj, 9 Omid Ebrahimi, 11 Vahid Amiri, 17 Mehdi Taremi, 18 Alireza Jahanbakhsh (14 Saman Ghoddos 70), 19 Majid Hosseini, 20 Sardour Azmoun, 23 Ramin Rezaeian
Iran 1 Portugal 1
Iran: Ansarifard 90+3pen
Portugal: Quaresma 45
Portugal reached the knockout stage but not as group winners after conceding a controversial late equaliser to Iran in a dramatic match that was dominated by questionable VAR decisions.
Portugal enjoyed the greater possession in the first half but Cristiano Ronaldo was well shackled and they needed individual brilliance from Ricardo Quaresma to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time.
Iran keeper Alireza Beiranvand looked shaky on crosses but saved a second-half Ronaldo penalty that had been awarded following the intervention of VAR.
Portugal were still on course to top the group until Iran were awarded a questionable stoppage-time penalty, again via VAR, which was converted by Karim Ansarifard. Mehdi Taremi could have snatched a last-gasp winner for Iran but shot into the side netting.
Matter of fact
The two penalties awarded in this game took the total number of spot-kicks to 20, exceeding the previous tournament record of 18.
Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres made three questionable decisions after consulting at length with the video officials. Ronaldo won a penalty after colliding with Ezatolahi and was then booked but not sent off for an elbow. But the ref saved his worst decision for stoppage time, when he awarded Iran the late penalty for handball.
Possession (%): 33/67
Goal attempts: 8/14
Attempts on target: 5/7
Pass accuracy (%): 68/89
Distance covered (km): 93/89
Iran vs Spain (20th June) Match Report
Iran Starting XI: 1 Alireza Beiranvand, 3 Ehsan Hajisafi (5 Milad Mohammadi 69), 6 Saeid Ezatolahi,8 Morteza Pouraliganji, 9 Omid Ebrahimi, 10 Karim Ansarifard (18 Alireza Jahanbakhsh 75), 11 Vahid Amiri (14 Saman Ghoddos 86), 17 Mehdi Taremi, 19 Majid Hosseini, 20 Sardar Azmoun, 23 Ramin Rezaeian
Spain Starting XI: 1 David De Gea, 2 Dani Carvajal, 3 Gerard Pique, 5 Sergio Busquets,6 Andres Iniesta (8 Koke 71), 11 Lucas Vasquez (20 Marco Asensio 79), 15 Sergio Ramos, 18 Jordi Alba, 19 Diego Costa (9 Rodrigo 89), 21 David Silva, 22 Isco
Iran 0 Spain 1
Spain: Diego Costa 54
A freak goal from Diego Costa was enough to see off the dogged resistance of Iran and send Spain to the top of their group after a game played in noisy conditions in Kazan.
Backed by a boisterous crowd, Iran’s plan was to frustrate Spain by defending deep, effectively with a back six, three in midfield and only Sardar Azmoun in the opposition half. Spain found little space in the first half but they moved the ball more quickly after the break and got the breakthrough goal thanks to a fortuitous bounce off Costa.
But it was far from one-way traffic and there were notable chances for Iran after Spain had taken the lead. Karim Ansarifard rippled the side netting while Mehdi Tarebi powered his header over after Vahid Amiri had nutmegged Pique. Iran’s best chance came from another set-piece, when Tarebi thought he had fired home, but after a lengthy delay VAR confirmed the linesman’s offside call.
Matter of fact
Spain completed 716 passes, compared to 152 for Iran.
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz dropped two key players, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Masoud Shojaei, who were both on yellow cards, suggesting his strategy was to save them for the final game against Portugal, while keeping the score down against Spain. In the end, his team were unlucky not something from this game.
Possession (%): 32/68
Goal attempts: 5/17
Attempts on target: 5/6
Pass accuracy (%): 63/87
Distance covered (km): 106/105
Iran vs Morocco (15th June) Match Report
Iran face a tough task to get points in Russia. Their best chance comes today against Morocco. Match preview here.
Starting XI: Ali Beiranvand; Hajisafi, Chedhmi, Pouraliganji, Rezaeian; Shojaei, Ebrahimi, Amiri, Ansarifard; Jahanbakhsh, Azmoun
Iran managed to sneak away with a 1-0 win against Morocco after an own goal by Aziz Bouhaddouz. Watch it below:
Iran World Cup Guide
By far the best qualifiers in Asia, Iran never looked in danger of not making the 2018 World Cup – the first time in their history they have achieved such a feat. Unbeaten in 10 games in the final group stage and conceding only twice, Carlos Queiroz has developed a well-organised, well-oiled and well-drilled machine. Now it is all about taking the team to the next level.
Key Moments in Qualifying
The opening game of the final round, in front of almost 80,000 fans in Tehran, and Iran are frustrated by Qatar until Reza Ghoochannejhad breaks the deadlock in the fourth minute of injury time.
A 1-0 win over South Korea in Tehran puts Iran in control of the group as a masterclass from Queiroz helps produce a performance that is far more dominant than the scoreline suggests.
Back-to-back 1-0 wins over Qatar and China in the space of five days means that the football-mad nation is on the brink of Russia.
The inevitable is confirmed with a 2-0 victory over Uzbekistan and there is dancing on the streets of Tehran.
Iran World Cup Group
Iran World Cup Friendlies
Iran’s first 2018 friendly against Libya was cancelled on the 14th of March. Three days later they beat Sierra Leone. They then lost to Tunisia, beat Algeria, and lost to Turkey. Their final friendly was against Lithuania which they won 1-0.
- 14th March – Libya (Cancelled)
- 17th March – Sierra Leone (won 1-0)
- 23rd March – Tunisia (lost 1-0)
- 27th March – Algeria (won 2-1)
- 18th May – Turkey (lost 2-1)
- 8th June – Lithuania (won 1-0)
Iran World Cup Fixtures
Carlos Queiroz, age 64 (01.03.53)
In place for six years, he has used his considerable experience to get the team where it is today. He has qualified three different national teams for four World Cups: South Africa, Portugal and now Iran – where he is beloved by fans. Next summer could be his biggest test and potential success.
Sardar Azmoun can lay claim to be the best striker in Asia at the moment, while Reza Ghoochannejhad has been scoring goals for fun with Heerenveen in the Dutch top flight.
Mehdi Taremi has his critics at home but the striker often pops up with a goal when needed. Veteran defender Jalal Hosseini has over a century of appearances and is still going strong.
Captain Javad Nekounam bowed out just before the qualification campaign started, while former Premier League midfielder Andranik Teymourian has not appeared this year.
Aged 21, Saeid Ezatolahi is being hailed as the “Persian Pogba” and the Russian-based midfielder has all the attributes to become a real star.
Iran World Cup Squad
Final 23-man squad –
GOALKEEPERS: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo).
DEFENDERS: Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Ramin Rezaeian (Ostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Alsaad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal).
MIDFIELDERS: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Haji Safi (Olympiacos), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiacos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis).
FORWARDS: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Mehdi Taremi (Al Gharafa), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Heerenveen), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest).
Iran World Cup Injuries
We will update you on any Iranian injuries here.
The Unanswered Questions
Will Iran be able to score goals?
Despite having such a talented attacker such as Sardar Azmoun, goals did not exactly flow freely in qualification. To get out of the group, he is going to need support.
Who will step up when the pressure is on?
Iran has long had powerful midfielders, both physically and mentally, but the present crop is younger and more technical. With the team’s stroll to the World Cup it remains to be seen who will emerge as a leader when the pressure is really on.
Will preparation help or hinder?
While Japan and South Korea regularly play some of the world’s biggest sides, Iran struggle to attract the same calibre of friendly opposition. Carlos Queiroz has openly called upon the national federation to pull out all the stops to get the team ready.
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