Tournament favourites Spain recorded their first victory of this year’s World Cup with a fortuitous 1-0 win over stubborn Iran in their Group B clash at the Kazan Arena, Arena on Wednesday night.
Buoyed by their opening match win over North African giants Morocco, Iran started the game well with a superb defensive display that kept the former world champions at bay and restricted the La Furia Roja forwards to feeding on scraps.
The plan worked for head coach Carlos Queiroz and his players until nine minutes after restart when Spain’s lone striker Diego Costa turned between two defenders only for Ramin Rezaeian’s clearance to ricochet off the Spaniard’s shin to wrong-foot Ali Beiranvand in goal for the Iranians.
Iran were able to get the ball in the net afterwards with Saeid Ezatolahi but centre referee Andres Cunha of Uruguay disallowed the goal after some few tense minutes with the help of the Video Assistant Referees (VAR) Technology.
Spain thereafter held on for a crucial victory which takes them to joint top of Group B alongside European champions Portugal while Iran drop to third with the defeat.
The Asians will now have to beat Portugal in their last group game at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk on Monday to qualify for the knockout stage, while a draw for Spain against bottom team Morocco will guarantee a last 16 spot.