Wales have waited 64 years to take part in a World Cup tournament but they failed to show up, with Robert Page’s hopes of progressing to the knockouts hanging by a thread after defeat to Iran.
A reckless challenge from Wayne Hennessey saw the goalkeeper dismissed late and Iran duly penalized the Forest man by scoring two late goals, leaving Wales needing a miracle to escape Group B.
Here, Kieran Gill of Sportsmail reviews players from both teams, with Hennessey, Aaron Ramsay and Gareth Bale having games to forget in Qatar.
Wales suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Iran that shattered their World Cup hopes
Two supersaves to stop Sardar Azmoun and Saeed Ezatolahi. But gosh, gosh, that decision to storm out of his box and take down Mehdi Taremi was rash, reckless and downright foolish. The red card was justified, and Wales collapsed with 10 men.
Will have some bruised toes after Morteza Pouraliganji stepped on his foot – one of the few examples of Iran thrilling the Wales players. Mepham and his fellow defenders were forever on their heels as Iran took the lead. Disappointed to see his clean slate slip away after his efforts.
Rodon’s fight with Azmoun was captivating. He did just enough to knock the Iranian striker off balance when he hit the post. Rodon fought to the end, always alert to Iran’s counterattacks at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium. But in the end it is a draining defeat.
Wayne Hennessey’s foolish challenge to Mehdi Taremi on Friday greatly inconvenienced his country
Davies played at left back on the left side of the Wales back three and tried to push the ball forward. His passing was precise and his long balls were probing, while Hossein Hosseini’s fingertip saves stripped him of what could have been a late winner for Wales.
VAR released him from jail after Iran’s careless pass across the field gained possession and scored. Luckily it was offside. Able to advance much further than against the United States. Enticing crosses from the right wing for 6ft 5in Moore to meet.
In contrast to the United States’ tie, Wales dominated possession against Iran. But for one of Ramsey’s standards, he was far too careless on the ball. Iran was forever ready to break through when he gave them property. Not good enough from Ramsey.
Aaron Ramsey was not good enough and failed to impress against the Iranians
Deepest midfielder in Wales, but the protection of the back three was lacking. Had to make a strange tactical error when Iran was countering. As he is often the glue that holds the midfield together, it was a big decision by the Wales manager to remove Ampadu in the second half in place of Ramsey.
Harry Wilson- 5
I haven’t seen much of Wilson, who comes in handy on set pieces. Substituted before the hour, as Iran felt victory was up for grabs. Unfortunately, Wilson and his colleagues from Wales are already able to pack their bags in anticipation of their return home.
Largely restrained against the United States when he tried to tie up Timothy Weah. Flattened by Ramin Rezaeian here, then bundled by Ali Gholizadeh. Shrugged off that roughness but was sacrificed for Johnson as Wales tried to prevent Iran from taking over this group stage match.
Gareth Bale was anonymous to his country at the worst time and failed to save them
Became Wales’ all-time record holder, but will not look back fondly on this anonymous performance. Bale loves to show up with a moment of magic and Wales looked to him and Ramsey to do something special. It’s a pity that both were passengers.
Kieffer Moore – 5
Preferred over James as Moore gives Wales something different beforehand. He felt he could and should have scored after 11 minutes when he met Roberts’ cross – which turned out to be Wales’ best chance – but Hosseini’s save was reactive.
Dan James (for Wilson, 58) – 5
Came in for Wilson but couldn’t stem the Iranian tide that was forever flowing towards the Wales goal.
Brennan Johnson did not have the impact expected coming off the bench
Brennan Johnson (for Roberts, 57) – 5
Sometimes substitutes become heroes, but the ball never dropped for Johnson to live his big moment.
Joe Allen (for Ampadu, 77) – 3
Gave the ball away just before both of Iran’s goals – careless, costly and crushing.
Danny Ward (for Ramsey, 87) – 4
It was his job to keep the zero. Instead, he conceded twice in stoppage time.
SUBS NOT USED
Chris Gunter, Joe Morrell, Tom Lockyer, Jonny Williams, Mark Harris, Adam Davies, Sorba Thomas, Dylan Levitt, Ben Cubango, Rubin Colwill, Matthew Smith
Rob page – 4
This was a different prospect from the game in the United States. This time Wales had more possession than the opponents. But they did nothing with it. Where was Bale? Where was Ramsey? Iran looked more likely to win from start to finish and Wales got what they deserved: nothing.
Rob Page got all the big decisions wrong and Wales was rightly punished by Iran
Iran (4-1-4-1): HHosseini 7.5; Rezaeian 7.5, M Hosseini 7.5, Pouraliganji 7.5, Mohammadi 7; Ezatolahi 7 (Karimi 83); Gholizadeh 7 (Jahanbakhsh 77), Nourollahi 7 (Cheshmi 78), Hajsafi 7 (Torabi 77), Taremi 8; Azmoun 7.5 (Ansarifard 68, 6)
Subs (not used): Beiranvand, Moharrami, Khalilzadeh, Amiri, Niazmand, Kanaanizadegan, Ghoddos, Abedzadeh, Jalali
Manager: Carlos Queiroz 7.5
Guatemalan referee let loose some game skills. A few Iranian players could and should have been carded for their roughness, but Escobar let the physicality go in this game. Should have known it was red for Hennessey without the need for VAR.
Mehdi Taremi was not deterred by his clash with Hennessey and was once again sublime