Karim Ansarifard (L) of Iran and Dani Carvajal of Spain in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group B preliminary round soccer match between Iran and Spain in Kazan, Russia, 20 June 2018.
Wednesday Jun 20, 2018. 22:10
Diego Costa’s goal was the difference when Spain beat Iran 1-0 in Group B of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at Kazan Arena on Wednesday night.
The Asians came into this contest off the back of a 1-0 win over Morocco and were looking for their second win whilst the La Roja drew 3-3 against Portugal in their opener last week.
Neither side dominated the proceedings in the opening stages as both goalkeepers did not make a save in the first 10 minutes.
The 2010 champions spent more time in Iran’s half, yet could not break down the opposition defence and create chances.
It took till the 22nd minute for Spain to hit the target when David Silva saw his set piece going straight to Ali Beiranvand.
On the stroke of half time, Spain came close to breaking the deadlock when Silva’s well taken shot was blocked by Iran as they frustrated the Europeans.
There were no goals at the interval.
Spain intensified their probe for a goal in the 50th minute and Beiranvand denied Sergio Busquets from a distance before stopping Isco from close range to keep the scores level.
Costa finally found the back of the net in the 54th minute when his shot from the edge of the box ricocheted off a defender to make it 1-0 for the Europeans.
Iran thought they have levelled the matters in the 62nd minute but the intervention from the Video Assistant Referees ruled for an offside, disallowing Saied Ezatolahi’s goal.
With eight minutes remaining Mehdi Taremi’s strong header nearly shocked the Spanish keeper, but the header went inches over the cross bar.
In the end, Spain remained disciplined at the back to walk away with the full three points to sit second on the log behind Portugal – they both have four points with as many goals.
For the Asians, they remain third with three points and will hope to beat the Portuguese to boost their knockout stage qualification hopes.
Iran: (0) 0
Spain: (0) 1 (Costa 54’)
Iran: Beiranvand, Safi (Mohammadi 69’), Ezatolahi, Puraliganji, Omid, Karim (Jahanbhaksh 75’), V. Amiri (Ghoddos 86’), Mehdi, M. Hosseini, Sardar, Ramin
Spain: De Gea, Carvajal, Pique, Busquets, Ramos, Iniesta (Koke 70’), Vazquez (Asensio 79’), Alba, Costa (Rodrigo 88’), Silva, Isco