Iran keeps World Cup dream alive after losing heartbreaker to Spain

Spain head coach Fernando Hierro gestures as he speaks to his player Spain's Koke during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan Russia Wednesday

Furthermore, he becomes just the fifth Spain player to net in the first two matches of a World Cup, following Estanislau Basora (1950), Andoni Goikoetxea (1994), Fernando Hierro (2002) and Fernando Torres (2006). The first in the 76th minute saw him just miss a cross into the area from Vahid Amiri by mere inches, before he powered a header high over the crossbar from close range with Iran unable to capitalise on their late pressure.

Iran need a win over Portugal in their final group game, which is a big ask for one of the lowest ranked sides in the tournament.

Tehran's largest stadium will admit thousands of women as well men for the first time since the the Islamic Revolution of 1979 with World Cup fever reaching fever pitch in the country ahead of the group game against Spain.

The Spanish had most of the possession throughout the match but were left frustrated as Iran defended deep, keeping men behind the ball whenever Spain attacked.

Diego Costa, who scored the winning goal for Spain, rejected claims he intentionally stamped on Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand.

While the Portuguese may not be as strong all over the park, they do have a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

Queiroz added: "We showed tremendous fighting spirit against a favourite to win the World Cup. That's the beauty of the World Cup", he said.

Against that, for all Spain's world class talent, Hierro has had little over a week to work with his team after being rushed into the job as a makeshift replacement after the sacking of Julen Lopetegui. They said his style of play was not right for the national team.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has denied his players faked getting hurt during their defeat to Spain on Wednesday and seemingly criticised the conduct of Sergio Ramos for his Champions League final tussle that injured Mohamed Salah. Spain and Portugal are on four points, while Iran is on three, making the last group stage match between Portugal and Iran a massive one with huge implications.

'We're more concerned because one member of our staff is in difficulties from a health point of view after the VAR decision, ' Queiroz said.

"The match the other day was not easy but I think the team has shown we know what we are doing and we trust what we are doing".

The first half lacked clear-cut chances, with Karim Ansarifard firing a speculative effort wide in the 14th minute before David Silva struck a fierce drive five minutes later, but it hammered into the body of Majid Hosseini.

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