A third 1-0 of the day took place on Wednesday night as Spain went top of their group after an unconvincing performance against Iran.
Diego Costa scored early in the second half after his shot was blocked by a defender but bounced off his foot into the goal. Iran had a goal, but it was taken away after VAR showed it was offside.
The moment the opening whistle was blown, it was obvious what kind of match this was going to be. Iran were very comfortable sitting back against the mighty Spain and making the game a physical affair.
Iran tried to go on the counter with Sardar Azmoun, but not with much else. The Rubin Kazan striker, playing at his home pitch, got a bit of a chance from 20 yards out but his shot went wide.
Iran defended with all 10 men behind the ball and defended well. Spain didn’t get any clear chances in the first 30 minutes, so they were restricted to more outlandish attempts such as David Silva’s overhead kick after a ball bounced to him from a corner, which floated over the crossbar.
The end of the half got a bit frustrating for Spain, as Diego Costa seemingly stomped on the foot of the keeper Alireza Beiranvand. Silva got another chance in injury time, but his shot was deflected wide.
Iran came out with the same tactics, but Spain finally got themselves some opportunities. Beiranvand saved Iran after a long shot from Busquets and a rebound from Vasquez.
Iran almost shocked Spain with Ansarifard hitting a volley into the side netting after a long throw, and they would come to regret missing that chance. Just 90 seconds later, Diego Costa opened the scoring in the 54th minute.
Andres Iniesta found the Atletico Madrid striker with a through-pass, Costa shot, only hitting a defender, but bounced off Costa’s leg past Beiranvand.
Iran had to come out of their shell after that, hoping they could push for a goal in the last 35 minutes. Mehdi Taremi missed a header from 10 yards out. Iran were absolutely ecstatic after scoring, but the goal was taken away after the referee consulted VAR, it was ruled an offside, breaking Iranian hearts.
Spain were less than a foot away from making it two. A beautifully rehearsed corner from Isco and Silva led to a shot by Ramos. The ball bounced to Pique for a rebound, but Ramin Rezaeian jumped in front of it, absorbing the shot with his body. Pique’s next few kicks of the ball were futile attempts to somehow shoot through Rezaeian.
Iran brought on some fresh legs in the form of Jahanbakhsh and were chasing the game. Spain, however, did not try to rack up the goals to gain a goal difference edge over Portugal, but just kept possession instead. The attacking activity from Iran bore fruit as Vahid Amiri cross the ball to the far post for Mehdi Taremi for the best chance of the match.
Taremi could only head it over the bar. Spain saw the game out without any real danger in the last 10 minutes. Iran tried to get forward with some long balls, but not connecting. They had a long throw in the last minute, Mohammadi tried to do a summersault to get enough power to get it into the box but couldn’t muster it.
Spain got the three points with the third 1-0 match of the day and tied Portugal for first. Iran are not out of it yet. If they defeat Portugal, which does seem unlikely, they will be through alongside Spain
Iran could also advance if they draw with Portugal, and Spain lose to Morocco by two goals or more. It’s a long shout, but Iran will definitely give it their all.