Spain and Iran have never met before, so this is a first in any international competition.Fulltime analysis: Full-time report: Spain survived a scare as they manage to take away three points from their second match against an upbeat Iran on Wednesday. The pressure was already mounting on the La Rojas as Portugal also secured three points from their match against Morocco and went straight to the top of the Group B table.
The match marred by a flurry of fouls and physical action saw Spain dominate maximum possession but Iran showed nerves of steel and defended with grit and vigour in their first faceoff against the La Rojas. The first half went goalless as the Iranian defence managed to fend off the likes of Diego Costa, Isco and Iniesta by placing 6 men in their deep-seating defence.
By the end of the first half, Spain had 73 per cent possession and 10 attempts during their World Cup game against Iran in Kazan today. However, only one of them was on target and the scoreboard showed a 0-0 scoreline. That defines how frustrating it has been for La Rojas who have, as was expected, dominated possession and overall play of the game. But, they haven't been able to break the deep-seating Iranians who seem more than happy to play second fiddle and just defend their goalpost.
Iran have already earned three points in their first match against Morocco while Spain had to share points with Portugal. Due to that point difference and the fact that Spain are expected to thoroughly outperform a relatively weaker team, Spain were under-pressure from the very beginning of the game.
The Spaniards played their usual style of play, holding the ball and looking for openings. A good chance for Spain came in the 30th minute, when Iniesta and Isco combined on the edge of the box, with the former winning a corner. A short corner was taken and eventually put into the middle, but David Silva flicked the effort over the bar. David Silva too had a couple chances himself but failed to convert.
The second half saw Spain attack with renewed vigour and they soon found the opener in the 54th minute thanks to Diego Costa and his goal scoring luck. Iniesta passed the ball to Costa inside the box and he turned towards the goal to take his shot, an Iran defender tried to clear the ball but it deflected off the leg of Costa, into the net. Thus, he scored his third goal of the tournament.
Iran tried to launch a comeback and almost equalised when Saeid Ezatolahi scored but the goal was disallowed after VAR review showed he was offside.
Iran continued to launch a series of attacks after that and was getting real close to equalising the one-goal lead but the Spaniards somehow managed to hold on and finish the game in a winning note.
The celebrations were short for La Rojas as they knew it was a narrow victory and Iran were real close to snatch away a point from the third match of Group B.
Iran still stand a chance to qualify for the knock-out stages but the hope of doing so is low. They will qualify only if they win against Portugal and Spain loses points against Morocco. The calculations are complicated and they might not get through the group stages but the Asians showed quality and played their heart out against a nation that have own the World Cup in 2010.
Here are the live updates:
Minute 90+1: Omid (IR Iran) is booked by the referee. Spain gets a freekick very close to the Iranian box. Isco floats a toothless low cross. Cleared by the Iranian defence.
Minute 89: Rodrigo (in) comes off the bench to replace Diego Costa (out) (Spain). Two minute of extra time added.
Minute 83:Ghoddos (in) comes off the bench to replace V. Amiri (out) (IR Iran)
Minute 82: Iran comes real close to equalise. Amiri lofts a perfect cross into the middle after beating Pique with a beautiful skill and Taremi rises highest in the area but his header misses the goal by inches.
Minute 79: First yellow of the game as Amiri catches Carvajal with a clumsy challenge. Asensio (in) comes off the bench to replace Lucas Vasquez (out) (Spain)
Minute 77:Spain gets a penalty just on the edge of the box. Isco hits it on the wall.
Minute 75: Iran is making sudden counter attacks. The Iranian cross lands dangerously infront of De Gea but it is lightly ahead of the attackers.
Minute 74:A. Jahanbakhsh (in) comes off the bench to replace Karim (out) (IR Iran)
Minute 71: Koke (in) comes off the bench to replace A. Iniesta (out) (Spain)
Minute 70: A clever corner saw Iniesta come short before cutting the ball to Ramos, who takes a shot at the goal but it results in a scramble on the goal line. Eventually, Iran get the free-kick.
Minute 68: M. Mohammadi (in) comes off the bench to replace Haji Safi (out) (IR Iran)
Minute 63:The goal is ruled out by the Video Assistant referee. Sad moment for Iran and its supporters.
Minute 62:Iran gets a freekick close to the box, floats a ball and a Iran header goes to the net. The goal is put on hold by the referee as they are checking a potential offside.
Minute 59:Iran come real close to equalise but a header from Taremi sails wide.
Minute 54: Spain get their breakthrough, 1-0! Iniesta passes a ball to Costa inside the box and he turns towards the goal to take a shot, an Iran defender tries to clear the ball but it deflects off the leg of Costa, into the net. His third goal of the tournament.
Minute 48:Spain comes real close to opening the scoresheet with the first attempt blocked by a defender and the second attempt saved by Beiranvand.
Minute 46:The second half of Spain vs Iran is underway. It will be interesting to see how Spain's new coach Hierto, strategise against a 6-man rock solid Iran defence.
Half-time analysis: By the end of the first half, Spain had 73 per cent possession and 10 attempts during their World Cup game against Iran in Kazan today. However, only one of them was on target and the scoreboard showed a 0-0 scoreline. That defines how frustating it has been for La Rojas who have, as was expected, dominated possession and overall play of the game. But, they haven't been able to break the deep-seating Iranians who seem more than happy to play second fiddle and just defend their goalpost.
Iran have already earned three points, courtsey an own-goal in their game against Morocco while Spain had to share points with Portugal who they drew in their first game. Due to that points difference and the fact that Spain are expected to thoroughly outperform a realtively weaker team, Spain were under-pressure from the very beginning of the game.
Minute 45+1: Spain comes real close to opening the deadlock but a David Silva shot deflects wide of the goal.
Minute 45: Three minutes of extra time added. The crowd dominated by Iran fans cheer as they have managed to keep a clean sheet till now.
Minute 43: The first half of play is almost over. It has been a frustrating half for La Rojas as they have got only one shot on target till now. Iran has been rock solid with their defence.
Minute 39: Diego Costa tries to bully the Iranian goalkeeper Beiranvand and paly stops as players get into a brawl. No further action is taken but it's nothing new to see Costa involved in that sort of incident.
Minute 36: Iran charges forward with Rezaeian's cross headed away by Ramos for a corner. The move is met by a lively reaction from the fans because Iran forming an attack has been a rare sight in the first half of play
Minute 34:Spain control a staggering 74% ball possession but is yet to find an opening thanks to the disciplined defending of Queiroz's men.
Minute 30: Spain's best move till now as Iniesta and Isco combine on the edge of the box, with the former winning a corner. A short corner is taken and eventually put into the middle, where David Silva acrobatically flicks an effort but it goes over the bar.
Minute 24: David Silva takes a free kick close to Iran's D-box. Shots it right into the hands of the goalkeeper
Minute 20: Spain continue to dominate possession as Iran play ultra-defensive defensive football. 11 fouls committed in the starting 20 minutes of play.
Trivia:Gerard Pique tonight makes his 100th appearance for Spain, joining team-mates Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Sergio Busquets in that illustrious club.
Minute 10: Spain have seen the majority of possession but have failed to find a final dead ball.
Spain XI: David De Gea; Dani Carvajal, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta; Lucas Vazquez, Isco, David Silva; Diego Costa.
Iran XI: Alireza Beiranvand; Ramin Rezaeian, Morteza Pouraliganji, Majid Hosseini, Ehsan Haji Safi; Omid Ebrahimi; Mehdi Taremi, Saied Ezatolahi, Vahid Amiri, Karim Ansarifard; Sardar Azmoun.
Spain subs: Pepe Reina, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marco Asensio, Nacho Monreal, Thiago Alcantara, Nacho, Saul Niguez, Koke, Iago Aspas, Rodrigo Moreno, Alvaro Odriozola.
Iran subs: Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri, Amir Abedzadeh, Ashkan Dejagah, Saman Ghoddos, Pejman Montazeri, Reza Ghoochannejhad, Milad Mohammadi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh, Masoud Shojaei, Mehdi Torabi.
Spain tied 3-3 with Portugal on Friday in their first international match under the newly-appointed head coach Hierro, who took the job just two days before the mega tournament started as his predecessor, Julen Lopetegui was sacked for announcing his appointment as the Real Madrid coach for the next season.
Spanish playmaker Isco believes that Wednesday's match against Iran will determine their World Cup destiny as they seek to register their first win in Russia.
Champions in 2010 and among the favourites this year, La Roja's World Cup ambitions were kept in check, almost single-handedly, by a stunning Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick. Apart from Ronaldo's scintillating show, De Gea's horrific mistakes under the bar helped Portugal to secure a match point from their World Cup opener.
Nevertheless, Spain players are rallying behind goalkeeper David De Gea as they prepare for their second group game at the World Cup against Iran in Kazan on Wednesday.
Moreover, Portugal play their second match against Morocco earlier on Wednesday and a win for Portugal will mount tremendous pressure on Sergio Ramos & Co.
On the other hand, Iran kicked off their campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Morocco, thanks to a late own goal by Aziz Bouhaddouz. Iran now sits at the top of the pile as they are the only Group B team with a win so far, an achievement that sparked incredible celebrations in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere throughout the Islamic republic.
Coach Carlos Queiroz conceded that Iran now face one of the biggest challenges in their World Cup history, but maintained that they can "make the impossible possible".
"If the game against Morocco was the World Cup final for us, the game against Spain will be the Universe Cup final," said the Iran coach who also has the experience of coaching Real Madrid, the royal club of Spain.
Iran have never beaten a European side at a World Cup -- their only previous victory was a 2-1 win over the United States in France in 1998.
The 23-member squad of Spain:
Goalkeepers: David De Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoli), Kepa (Athletic Bilbao)
Defenders: Dani Carvajal(Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos(Real Madrid), Nacho (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba(Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Odriozola (Real Sociedad)
Midfield: Sergio Busquets(Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) Saúl, Koke (both Atletico), Thiago (Bayern) David Silva (Manchester City), Isco, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vázquez (all Real Madrid)
Forward: Iago Aspas (Celta), Rodrigo (Valencia), Diego Costa (Atletico)
The 23-member squad of Iran:
Goalkeepers: Amir Abedzadeh, Alireza Beiranvand, Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri
Defenders: Rouzbeh Cheshmi, Majid Hosseini, Mohammad Khanzadeh, Milad Mohammadi, Pejman Montazeri, Morteza Pouraliganji, Ramin Rezaeian
Midfielders: Vahid Amiri, Ashkan Dejagah, Omid Ebrahimi, Saeid Ezatolahi, Ali Gholizadeh, Ehsan Hajsafi, Masoud Shojaei, Mehdi Torabi
Forwards: Karim Ansarifard, Saman Ghoddos, Reza Ghoochannejhad, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Mehdi Taromi