With three points already in the bag, IR Iran had planned to “defend their point” against Spain, with an eye to playing on the counterattack against Fernando Hierro’s men. Although Iran were constantly under pressure, especially towards the middle of first half, they did not give Spain any significant chances.
“They normally wouldn’t have scored even if they had played until morning,” said Team Melli goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand. “But some days, you just get bad luck. Out of nowhere, there was a deflected goal.” It was the first goal that Beiranvand had conceded at Russia 2018.
Iran went onto the attack. “After the goal we played some good football, and created opportunities, even scoring a goal which was ruled offside,” said midfielder Vahid Amiri. But Team Melli couldn’t quite find the net, and the match finished 1-0. After scoring a lucky goal in the previous match against Morocco, Queiroz’s players conceded an unlucky goal today. “Iran did not deserve to lose today,” claimed the Iran coach, “but we are not here to get anything easily.”
Although Iran’s streets are obviously quieter tonight than after the Morocco game, Iranian media and supporters have expressed their pride in Team Melli for coming close to collecting a point against one of the very best national teams. In terms of qualifying from the group, things are still wide open. Beiranvand explains why his colleagues are not overly despondent: “Even if we had gotten a point, we wouldn’t have been able to qualify with a draw in our final match, because Spain won’t lose to Morocco.”
Now the objective is clear for Team Melli: to beat Portugal! Iran has a hard mission to accomplish, but after putting up such a fight against the former World and European champions, they will approach the encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal with far more hope and confidence.
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