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Costa lifts Spain to 1-0 win over Iran | Coastweek

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- Diego Costa [front left] of Spain vies with Saeid Ezatolahi [center] of Iran during a Group B match between Spain and Iran at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Kazan, Russia, June 20, 2018. Spain won 1-0. XINHUA PHOTO - LIU DAWEI

Costa lifts Spain to 1-0 win over Iran

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- Diego Costa’s lone goal in the second half gave Spain a 1-0 win over Iran in their World Cup Group B match here on Wednesday.

After a goalless first-half, Diego Costa broke the deadlock for Spain in the 54th minute after his shot bounced past Ali Beiranvand into the bottom-left corner after meeting a pass from Andres Iniesta.

Saeid Ezatolahi almost leveled the score for Iran in the 62nd minute, but the Iranians’ cheers were cut short when the goal was ruled offside with the help of video assistant referee (VAR) system.

Wednesday’s match opened with Spain launching fierce attacks but failing to find clear-cut chances as the Iranian side put up a strong defense.

The Spanish side made their first threat in the 3rd minute, as Carvajal kicked a speculative shot but was headed away by Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand. Only one minute later, another shot from Spain was tipped away by Beiranvand.

Facing Spain’s fierce attacks, the Iranian side tightened their defense to their own half court in the rest of the first half and practically left Spain no chance.

Paces picked up in the second half with Spain desperate to make a breakthrough.

After Costa scored in the 54th minute, the Iranians changed strategy and showed more attacking intents but failed to get even.

FIFA statistics showed that Spain made 17 attempts at the goal throughout the match, while Iran made only five. Ball possession was 69 percent for Spain and 31 percent for Iran.

Diego Costa, having scored three times in the first two matches of World Cup this year, was chosen as man of the match.

“The truth is I had a bit of luck (with the goal),” said the Atletico Madrid star after the game. “But I am happy because it was a tight game,” he added.

“We deserve a better result,” said Iran coach Carlos Queiroz at the post-match press conference, noting that his team played with a fighting spirit.

But he added that the match itself was a “win” for his team anyway, as his team learned a lot from fighting Spain.

Spain’s new coach Fernando Hierro said after the match that he was happy for getting three points, noting that Iran are a strong team.

“It was a difficult game. It is very hard to score against them. They are very direct, tough, very strong physically,” he said.

After the second round of Group B matches, Spain and Portugal are jointly leading with four points, while Iran had three points with one win and one loss. Morocco, meanwhile, have practically lost the chance to reach the knockout phase after being beaten twice.

Iran will meet Portugal in their last group match while 2010 champions Spain take on Morocco.

“Everything is open. We are still alive, dreaming. That’s it,” said Queiroz, not losing the hope for Iran to progress to the next phase through a win over Portugal.

He added that Portugal are a great team with fantastic players but Iran will not be afraid of attacking.

Hierro said he expects a difficult game for every team. “There are 32 brilliant teams here. We are the best national teams in the world. If anyone thinks it is going to be easy, and to win by a landslide, they are wrong. That’s the beauty of the World Cup,” he said.

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UPDATES:

Costa inspires Spain to 1-0 win over Iran

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- Diego Costa’s lone goal in the second half gave Spain a 1-0 win over Iran in their World Cup Group B match here on Wednesday.

After a goalless first-half, Diego Costa broke the deadlock for Spain in the 54th minute by pushing the ball past Ali Beiranvand into the bottom-left corner after meeting a pass from Andres Iniesta.

Saeid Ezatolahi almost leveled the score for Iran in the 62nd minute, but the Iranians’ cheers were cut short when the goal was ruled offside with the help of video assistant referee (VAR) system.

Iran won the second victory in its World Cup history on June 15 in a dramatic way, after Moroccan substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz headed the ball into his own net.

Wednesday’s match opened with Spain launching fierce attacks but failing to find clear-cut chances as the Iranian side put up a strong defense.

The Spanish side made their first threat in the 3rd minute, as Carvajal kicked a speculative shot but was headed away by Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand. Only one minute later, another shot from Spain was tipped away by Beiranvand.

The Iranians only made two attempt at the goal in the first half, as Vahid Amiriin shot wide in the 7th minute and Karim Ansarifard pushed a low shot off the right post in the 14th minute.

Facing Spain’s fierce attacks, the Iranian side tightened their defense to their own half-court in the rest of the first half and practically left Spain no chance.

Paces picked up in the second half with Spain desperate to make a breakthrough.

After Costa scored in the 54th minute, the Iranians changed strategy and showed more attacking intents but failed to get even.

FIFA statistics showed that Spain made 17 attempts at the goal throughout the match, while Iran made only 5. Ball possession was 69 percent for Spain and 31 percent for Denmark.

Diego Costa, having scored three times in the first two matches of World Cup this year, was chosen as man of the match.

After the second round of Group B matches, Spain and Portugal are jointly leading with four points, while Iran had three points with one win and one loss. Morocco, meanwhile, have practically lost the chance to reach the knockout phase after being beaten twice.

Iran will meet Portugal in their last group match while 2010 champions Spain take on Morocco.

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Iran in high spirits atop Group B after holding off Spain

By Hassan Rouhvand TEHRAN Iran (Xinhua) -- Following the win against Morroco in Group B of FIFA World Cup, the Iranian national soccer team now have to build on their success and try to somehow hold off Spain in the second game.

With the fact that Iran’s second game at a World Cup traditionally is their strongest, there is some hope for Iran, who also have developed under Carlos Queiroz.

According to a Persian Football news website, Iran’s main focus at Wednesday match will be laid on the defense. In absence of Rouzbeh Cheshmi, who will not be able to play again in this tournament due to a muscle injury sustained in Sunday’s training session, the main question is who will replace the 24-year-old in central defense.

Youngster Majid Hosseini seems to have good chances, considering he came on as a late substitute versus Morocco, but considering the 21-year-old only has to cap to his tally so far and only broke into Esteghlal Tehran’s starting lineup this year, Queiroz might opt for the much more experienced Pejman Montazeri.

Also Mohammad-Reza Khanzadeh, who like Cheshmi has gotten a lot of minutes in Iran’s friendly matches since qualifying last spring, would be an option. But the 28-year-old could also be used as right-back instead of Ramin Rezaeian, whose more offensive interpretation of the right-back position might be the wrong approach against Spain.

In defensive midfield, Saeid Ezatollahi will undoubtedly return. Omid Ebrahimi, who did a splendid job in the first match and fully recovered from his rib injury, might be moved to the right central midfield position in the 4-3-3, to help destroying Spain’s build-up. That would mean both veteran playmakers Masoud Shojaei and Ashkan Dejagah would start on the bench.

On the left, fast-paced Milad Mohammadi might return to the starting lineup as left-back while Ehsan Hajsafi could return to the midfield, where he is usually paired with Ezatollahi.

Up front, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Sardar Azmoun will certainly start, while the left-wing position is more disputed. Vahid Amiri did a great job against Morocco and might be the most likely alternative, considering his stamina and good mix of offensive and defensive skills. But also the often unpredictable Mehdi Taremi might be given the nod while Karim Ansarifard, one of Queiroz’s favourite players, could also be installed on the left, which would add additional aerial power.

Certainly the Portuguese coach will have one or the other surprise in his starting lineup, which again is very hard to predict.

This won’t concern the Spaniards too much though, as they traditionally concentrate on their own strengths. Interim coach Fernando Hierro has a pool of 23 world class players available and will undoubtedly be up to dominate the proceedings for the full 90 minutes and grab a very vital three points.

There is little reason to make any changes to the lineup in comparison to the 3-3 opening game draw against Portugal, with maybe right-back Daniel Carvajal returning from injury.

Iran will surely not even try to win dominance in midfield, and instead focus on closing all gaps in the defensive third and hit Spain with some surprise counterattacks and hurt the big favourites with set pieces.

While the Iranians are clear underdogs in this game, there are two facts which can cheer their fans up: regardless of the result against Spain, Iran will still be in the race for the knockout stage until the third game against Portugal is finished. And, should Iran surprise the whole world with a win against the former World Cup winners, they would already qualify for the next round.

           

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