Carlos Queiroz hails 'wonderful day' for Iran after stunning win over Wales at World Cup

Manager praises team after deserved victory leaves them dreaming of reaching knockout stages in Qatar

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Carlos Queiroz hailed Iran's World Cup victory over Wales as a “wonderful day” for his team.

Iran were thrashed 6-2 by England in their opening Group B match before which the players had refused to sing along with the national anthem before the game in an apparent show of solidarity with anti-government protesters back home.

But the Iranian players opted to sing for Friday's game and produced a vastly improved performance at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, climaxing in Rouzbeh Cheshmi and Ramin Rezaeian scoring in the 98th and 101st minutes.

It was no more than Iran deserved after dominating the second half which saw Sardar Azmoun and Ali Gholizadeh hit the woodwork within seconds of each other, while Saeid Ezatolahi also had an attempt well saved by Wayne Hennessey in the Welsh goal.

“I think it was a wonderful day for us, we're back to football and I don't have the words to say thank you to our players,” said Queiroz.

“They deserve all attention and respect. I changed absolutely nothing, it was the players that adjusted today. They only think about playing football with no fear, they expressed themselves. And that's why it worked well.”

Iran will head into their last group match against the United States on Tuesday knowing that another win would send them into the knockout phase for the first time.

“Again the players deserve to be supported and we did it for them. That's the only reason we are here, to play for the fans,” added Queiroz.

“It's just the beginning, now we need to finish the job.”

While there was unbridled joy for Iran, Wales' World Cup dreams have been left in tatters. Robert Page's side were battling to hold out for a point after an 86th-minute red card for goalkeeper Hennessey left them down to 10 men.

But the late goals Cheshmi and Rezaeian mean they will now have to beat group favourites England on Tuesday to stand even the slightest chance of getting out of the group.

“It’s gutting, we’re gutted, there’s no other way to say it,” said captain Gareth Bale, who was making a record 110th appearance for his country.

“We fought to the last seconds but it’s difficult to take. But we have to pick ourselves up straight away, it’s going to be difficult but we have one game left.

“We will have to see. What can I say? We’ll recover and we have to go again.”

Hennessey’s rush of blood, when he raced out of his goal and wiped out Iran striker Mehdi Taremi, left Wales with an uphill struggle.

Bale added: “I haven’t seen so I don’t know – but obviously the red card changed the game completely.”

Updated: November 25, 2022, 1:58 PM