Iran overcome the challenge from Wales with a 2-0 victory in the World Cup being staged in Qatar as they scored twice in the dying minutes of the match.

Recovering from a heavy defeat at the hands of England in their first match amid of the field political controversies, the Iranian players were more aggressive than their rivals with 21 total shots at goal. Six of these attempts were on target.

It was Rouzbeh Cheshmi who broke the deadlock by lashing the ball from out of the box in the bottom corner after a Welsh player failed to clear the ball. It was in the eighth minute of the injury time. In fact, he became the first player to score a goal from out of the box in the ongoing World Cup.

And three minutes later, Ramin Rezaein confirmed the victory in an counter attack as Wales went all-out for an equalizer.

Earlier, Wales, including their star player Gareth Bales, failed to open their account despite several attempts on goal.

This match second round of matches in the Group Stage of the competition. Iran, in their first match, had lost to England with 6-2 while Wales had a 1-1 draw against the United States.

Iran protests and national anthem

After facing fierce criticism from the government officials, the Iranian football team sang their national anthem before the match on Friday.

But the exercise was clearly half-hearted with their lips barely moving. But the uncomfortable performance contrasted with the vigour that the Welsh players sang their anthem.

TV cameras cut to Iranians in the crowd in tears and even sobbing during the anthem. Many Iranians fans in Iranian colours but not waving the flag of the Islamic Republic booed the anthem, as did some Welsh fans.

Some Iranians carrying a flag with the words ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ – a slogan of the protests that began after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September – were confronted in the stadium by security officials.

The Iranian team has been under severe conflicting pressure with warnings at home from conservative politicians that the players may face consequences on their return to Iran if they did not sing the anthem. But backers of the protests have been seeking more unequivocal support for them by the players.

Earlier on Thursday, the Iranian security forces arrested Voria Ghafouri, one of the country’s most famous footballers. He is accused of spreading propaganda against the Islamic republic and seeking to undermine the national World Cup team.

Ghafouri, a former member of the national football team and once a captain of the Tehran club Esteghlal, has been outspoken in his defence of Iranian Kurds, telling the government on social media to stop killing Kurdish people. He has previously been detained for criticising former Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif.


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