Spain battled to a nervy 1-0 victory against Iran with Diego Costa registering the only goal. Spain are now level on points with Portugal in Group B of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
La Roja spent much of the first 45 minutes in Iran’s end, enjoying 81 percent possession in process.
David Silva hooked the ball over the bar after 30 minutes with the best of the very few chances. While Iran failed to find the target on any of their infrequent forays across the half-way line.
Spain were in front soon after the restart. Costa’s neat turn and quick shot took an odd deflection off an Iranian defender and found the back of the net. However, the 2010 world champions were on the back foot for parts of the second half.
Spain handed a 100th cap to Gerard Pique, with Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez the only new faces from the side that drew against Portugal.
The Asian side almost scored the most unlikely of openers when Karim Ansarifard’s instinctive effort from a corner flashed into David De Gea’s side netting.
Iran created a lot of chances in the dying minutes of the game but failed to find the net. Despite that setback, they rallied and thought they had drawn level with 25 minutes left on the clock.
Spain failed to clear a deep free-kick into their penalty area, and Saeid Ezatolahi smashed home from close range to spark scenes of wild jubilation. But the referee, Andres Cunha ruled the goal out for offside following a VAR review.
Iran then survived a goalmouth scramble involving half the players on the pitch. But Spain saw out the match to claim a vital victory in Group B to leapfrog Iran.
Spain are now level with Portugal on four points after two games and will progress to the last 16 with a point against Morocco. Iran, meanwhile, must get at least a point against Portugal to keep their knock-out hopes alive.
FT: Spain 1-0 Iran
Diego Costa 54′