Wales, who were down to ten men in the closing stages of regulation time after Wayne Hennessey was sent off, had seemingly been on course to somehow avoid defeat and take a point, but two fine goals right at the end sealed the three points for Iran, who won their third match at the FIFA World Cup in six appearance.
With Team Melli opting to sing their national anthem after abstaining against England, the crowd were pumped and that brought an early flurry, including a disallowed Ali Gholizadeh goal.
FIFA World Cup 2022 Results | Points Table | Fixtures
That let-off and the fact Gholizadeh and Sardar Azmoun struck the post just after the break suggested luck was on Wales’ side. But Hennessey’s red card for a wild challenge turned the tide, and Iran picked the Dragons off in ruthless and remarkable fashion.
A lively start saw Connor Roberts almost inspire an early Wales opener for Kieffer Moore with a brilliant cross, before seeing then his poor pass lead to Gholizadeh finishing off an intricate move.
Fortunately for Roberts the goal was disallowed for offside and the contest soon became cagey.
Iran finished the first half well and maintained that greater purpose at the start of the second, with Azmoun smashing against one post on the break and Gholizadeh curling against the other nine seconds later.
Wales became even less of a threat as Hennessey was given his marching orders in the 86th minute after racing out of his goal and catching Mehdi Taremi in the face with his knee.
Iran took full advantage when Cheshmi’s emphatic 20-yard strike into the bottom-right corner finally gave them the deserved breakthrough and Wales were finished off on the break.
Taremi charged forward and coolly picked out the run of Rezaeian, whose delicate finish over Danny Ward ended Wales’ hopes of a turnaround.
What’s next after Wales vs Iran in Group B?
USA and England face each other for their second group stage match later on Friday (November 25). The final round of the group stage matches will see Wales face England and USA meet Iran on Tuesday (November 29).
Iran, who have never made it out of the group stages, will now have a chance to progress if they beat USA in their final group stage match of Qatar 2022. Iran have already beaten USA once in their previous group stage meeting at the World Cup back in 1998.
(With OPTA inputs)