Wales dominated the possession throughout Friday’s match, and the first half had been a closely contested affair as both sets of fans passionately urged on their teams.
Iran were the better team and unlucky when Sardar Azmoun and Ali Gholizadeh hit the right and left post within a few seconds shortly after the restart, while Wales’ best opportunity came early from Kieffer Moore and late from Ben Davies.
Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was given his marching orders in the 86th minute after bringing down Mehdi Taremi outside the box. There can be no complaints after VAR showed the collision multiple times, forcing the referee to reverse his earlier decision to brandish a yellow card.
A thumping long-range effort by Roozbeh Cheshmi sent Iranian fans screaming inside Ahmad bin Ali Stadium eight minutes into the second-half injury time. It was as clean a strike as you can get, as it sailed past multiple defenders and nestled in the bottom of the net.
Wales players dropped to their knees in shock.
Ramin Rezaeian then made it 2-0 three minutes later, delicately lifting the ball over substitute keeper Danny Ward and sending Iranian fans into raptures.
It was a huge win for Iran’s coach Carlos Queiróz who had faced criticism in the wake of his side’s 6-2 loss to England. After the game, he said, “I don’t have words to say thank you to our players. They were brilliant. They deserve all the respect.”
Gareth Bale was bitterly disappointed in his post-match interview. “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.”