WALES’ hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages hang in the balance after they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Iran on Friday morning.
It promised to be an exciting game with both teams needing to win but with Wales ranked 19th and Iran 20th in the FIFA rankings it was a tight affair.
Kieffer Moore was given the nod to start the game after his impressive second half display against the USA.
They knew they needed to start better than they did in the game against the Americans and it was clear early on they were looking to attack.
There were some early crosses from the Iranians but Wales defended them admirably. Sardar Azmoun also tried his luck with a shot from just outside the box but Hennessey gathered comfortably.
In the 11th minute Connor Roberts sent an inviting cross into the box and Moore got a foot to it but the Iran keeper kept the ball out. He took a boot to the face as he went down with the shot but was ok to continue.
In the 15th minute a mistake from Connor Roberts allowed Iran to take possession and some neat passing eventually led to the ball being poked into the net by Ali Gholizadeh.
However, VAR found Gholizadeh to be offside and Wales had a let off.
Two minutes later Wales were given a free kick on the by-line and Harry Wilson stood over it but his ball in was cleared.
In the 32nd minute Wales were given a free kick in the middle of the half but the delivery did not find a Welsh player.
Shortly before the break, Wilson saw a shot deflected over for a corner. From that the ball was floated in towards Moore but the Iran keeper caught the ball.
In added time the ball was sent into the box but just in front of Azmoun who couldn’t connect.
Joe Rodon was booked for a foul late on in the half and Iran swung the ball into the box but after some awkward moments Hennessey made the save.
That meant it was 0-0 at half time and an exciting second half was in prospect.
Five minutes into the second half there was an incredible double let-off for Wales. Azmoun was played but he saw his effort hit the right post. It came out to Gholizadeh who curled one on to the other post and when the ball fell to Azmoun he headed the ball into the hands of Hennessey.
Wales then made two changes with Brennan Johnson replacing Connor Roberts and Dan James coming on for Harry Wilson.
Joe Allen made a welcome return as he looked to change Wales’ fortunes. Both sides battled away and with ten minutes to go it was still goalless.
With seven minutes to go Ben Davies saw a shot pushed over for a corner. It came to nothing and Iran broke up the other end. Hennessey came out to get the ball but he collided with the Iranian player and was shown a yellow card.
VAR asked the referee to take a second look for a possible red card. The referee did overturn his decision and Hennessey was off and Wales were down to 10.
Danny Ward came on and Aaron Ramsey was sacrificed. From the resulting free kick Wales were able to clear.
Torabi saw a shot go just wide as the Iranians began to pile on the pressure once more.
Nine minutes of injury time were shwon and Wales still had time.
In the seventh minute of time added on Iran’s Cheshmi recieved the ball just outside the box and he fired the ball low and into the net.
There was still time left for Wales but as they pushed for an equaliser Iran broke and Ramin lofted the ball into the net to all but seal the win.
It leaves Wales with one point and Iran move on to three. Wales could still qualify but they would need a big win against England and hope that the USA beat Iran.