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Rob Page: Iran defeat not a true reflection of Wales | ‘We want to finish on a high’ | Football News


Wales coach Rob Page admitted his team had fallen well below the standards they set for themselves as defeat to Iran put them on the brink of World Cup elimination.

Page refused to use Wayne Hennessey’s red card – only the third for a goalkeeper in World Cup finals history – as an excuse for the defeat, and said Carlos Queiroz’s team were well worth their win.

Iran hit both posts and had a goal disallowed before they finally took the lead in the 98th minute through substitute Roozbeh Cheshmi’s long-range strike, with Ramin Rezaeian adding a breakaway second three minutes later.

Wales 0-2 Iran
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Wales 0-2 Iran – Match stats

The red card was a pivotal moment, with Iran achieving final-third domination into second-half stoppage-time and scoring two goals
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The red card was a pivotal moment, with Iran achieving final-third domination into second-half stoppage-time and scoring two goals

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, so often the architects of Wales’ successes down the years, were both disappointing and they now need a victory over England next Tuesday to have any hope of reaching the knockout stages.

Page even appeared to refer to the England game as Wales’ “final” match of the tournament, underlining how difficult the road ahead is for the Dragons from here.

“This is a hard one to take,” Page said. “I’ve said to them before every game: ‘Go and show the world what you show us every day,’ and that is not a true reflection of that team.

“They got their true rewards today, they deserved that defeat. We fell well below the standards that got us to the World Cup, if we’d met those standards we’d have been alright. And if you do that in top competitions, you get punished.”

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Robbie Earnshaw watches in despair on as 10-man Wales concede two late goals to Iran in the FIFA World Cup.

Asked about the England game, Page said: “We want to finish the competition on a high. It’s out of our hands for going through, but we want to finish with a good performance and a win. We’re low at the moment, but we’ll get them back up tomorrow for a tough game to finish with.”

What does the result mean?

The defeat leaves Wales bottom of Group B with one point from two games, meaning they must beat England in their final game on Tuesday at 7pm to have any hope of progressing to the last 16.

Iran move to three points, putting them in a strong position to reach the knockout stages ahead of their final group game against USA, also at 7pm on Tuesday.

Wales were left in fourth place in Group B by the defeat
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Wales were left in fourth place in Group B by the defeat

Bale: We’re gutted but we must recover

Gareth Bale reacts to the defeat as Iran's players celebrate
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Gareth Bale reacts to the defeat as Iran’s players celebrate

Wales captain Gareth Bale said on BBC:

“It’s gutting, we’re gutted. There’s no other way to say it.

“We fought until the last second but it’s one of those things, it’s difficult to take, but we have to recover and go again.

“We have to pick ourselves up straight away. It’s going to be difficult, but we have one game left in the group and have to look at every positive and still try to enjoy the occasion.

On Wayne Hennessey’s red card, he added: “I haven’t seen it so I don’t know (if it was a red) but the red card changes the game completely. Obviously, we let the first one in and the second goal doesn’t matter.

“We recover and we have to go again.”

Big moments in the game…

  • Pre-match: Iran players sing national anthem to loud jeers from fans
  • 12 min: Moore sends a big chance stragiht at Hosseini
  • 15 min: Iran goal ruled out by VAR for offside
  • 52 min: Iran hit the post twice in quick succession
  • 86 min: Hennessey shown straight red following VAR check
  • 90+8 min: Cheshmi breaks deadlock with stunning goal
  • 90+11 min: Rezaeian adds second Iran goal at the death

Analysis: Welsh reliance on Bale exposed

Gareth Bale looks dejected after Wales lose late in the game to Iran
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Gareth Bale looks dejected after Wales lose late in the game to Iran

Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:

“This was a historic game for Gareth Bale, his 110th international appearance seeing him overtake Chris Gunter as Wales’ most-capped player, but it is not one he will remember fondly.

“Bale had yet again delivered when his country needed him most against USA, winning and converting the penalty which clinched their 1-1 draw at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.

“But there was to be no repeat of those heroics against Iran, with Bale unable to exert his usual influence, the 33-year-old limited to 36 touches, the fewest of any player to complete the game.

“In the end, the performance and result exposed Wales’ reliance on their talisman. Kieffer Moore was a useful outlet at times, but when Bale does not spark, neither do his team-mates.

“That is not to say he should be blamed, of course. In fact, other senior players were similarly poor, with Aaron Ramsey clearly lacking fitness in central midfield and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey punished for the lapse that led to his red card.

“But inevitably the spotlight ends up on Bale. Wales will need more from him if they are to beat England and upset the odds to claim a place in the knockout stages, but in the long-term they must find other solutions, and a new generation capable of building on the progress he has driven.”

Earnshaw: Wales ‘naive’ against Iran

Former Wales striker Robert Earnshaw on Sky Sports News:

“Pure heartbreak but the game was a must-win for both teams. It was a game full of action.

“It was about Iran deserving it today to be honest with you. Very good team – completely unrecognisable from the first game against England.

“They just kept counter-attacking. Wales naive in a way. They looked lost, especially in midfield. Iran kept breaking through at will. You can’t do that against top players.”

Wales’ winless streak – Opta stats

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Wales fans at a fanzone in Swansea react to their defeat to Iran in Group B of the World Cup

  • Wales (D2 L5) have now gone seven games without a victory in all competitions for the first time since May 2003.
  • Iran have scored four goals already at the 2022 World Cup, twice as many goals as they managed in any previous edition of the competition.
  • Wales conceded more than one goal in a World Cup match for the first time ever.
  • Wales’ Wayne Hennessey was just the third goalkeeper to be sent off at the World Cup, after Gianluca Pagliuca for Italy against Norway in 1994 and Itumeleng Khune for South Africa against Uruguay in 2010.
  • Roozbeh Cheshmi’s opener for Iran, on 97 minutes 56 seconds, was the latest winning goal ever scored at the World Cup, excluding extra-time, since exact goal times are available for the competition (since 1966).
  • Gareth Bale made his 110th senior appearance for Wales, become the outright most capped player for his country, surpassing Chris Gunter (109).

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Joe Thomlinson and Doug Critchley of Euro Football Daily discusses what Wales’ loss to Iran means for the national team moving forward.

Quiroz hails Iran’s character | ‘Players found first days of World Cup tough’

Carlos Queiroz is thrown up in air by his players following the 2-0 win over Wales
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Carlos Queiroz is thrown up in air by his players following the 2-0 win over Wales

The win for Iran means their match against the United States – which would always have been highly charged given the political history between the nations – could now be winner-takes-all for a place in the last 16.

Queiroz felt too much external pressure was placed on his players ahead of the England game.

The team have become a political lightning rod for the turmoil in Iran, with those who are pro-regime criticising them for not singing the anthem before the England match and protesters attacking them for not doing enough to highlight the plight of women in the country.

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Sky Sports’ Geraint Hughes discusses how some Iranian fans protested before and during their FIFA World Cup match against Iran

The Portuguese coach criticised the Iranians in the stands at the England match
who booed his team, but was much more complimentary about the fans after the Wales match.

“The crowd deserve a special word today,” he said. “It was a joy, it was happiness, it was drama, I love this game when things are this way.”

He hailed the character of his team, adding: “It was really very emotional because we rebounded from a difficult situation.”

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Euro Football Daily’s Dougie Critchley says Iran’s victory over Wales in the World Cup was completely deserved and important for the country.

Cheshmi admitted the team had found the first few days of the World Cup extremely tough.

“I should say that if the pressure was football-related that would be acceptable but if the players were under pressure unfairly that would not be right,” he said via an interpreter.

“Players were judged abruptly and received non-football pressure. All the team helped each other. I scored the goal but the team did the work.”





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