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World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal as Morocco's Munir Mohamedi picks the ball out of the goal REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco
World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal as Morocco's Munir Mohamedi picks the ball out of the goal REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
1:44PM 44 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 More smart play by those Moroccan men on the right side. First time, the ball is hacked clear. Second time, the ball is chested back to Patricio to bring an end to the attack. "Guerreiro is making Amrabat look world class," says Martin Keown. 1:42PM 42 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Guedes probably should have done better with that chance. He had a lot of goal to aim at, but stuck it far too close to Mohamedi. 1:40PM 40 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A big chance for Portugal to double their lead! It's come from nothing as Morocco switch off slightly and allow Guedes to latch onto a little Ronaldo dink over the top. The Portugal frontman hits the ball on the run and Mohamedi palms away, moving to his left. Benatia is then booked for a foul on Ronaldo soon after. 1:38PM 38 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A lovely overlap sees Hakimi drive high up the pitch for Morocco, but Boutaib cannot keep hold of the ball inside the Portugal penalty area. Back they come again though and Portugal twice have to hoof the ball clear. 1:36PM 36 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A few fouls coming in from both sides in the middle of the park. Still no yellow cards been shown. Portugal vs Morocco shots on goal 1:32PM 32 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 ... Ronaldo marks out his run-up, pulls up his shorts, puffs his cheeks... and then whacks the ball into the Morocco wall. 1:31PM 31 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are again appealing for a penalty as Fonte crashes into Boutaib inside the penalty area, but the referee isn't interested. Portugal then go straight down the other end and win a free-kick 20 yards out from goal. Step up you know who... 1:30PM 30 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ronaldo has barely got a look for the past 15mins or so. His side just cannot retain possession. Morocco fans at Luzhniki respond to Ronaldo’s complaints by singing ‘Messi, Messi’. An old one but a good one— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) June 20, 2018 1:28PM 28 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Amrabat, playing on the right wing today (he played right-back against Iran) is tearing Guerreiro to pieces every time he gets the ball. He just about wriggles clear of the Portugal left-back, ventures into the Portugal penalty area and then tumbles over as Guerreiro fights back to apply some pressure. It looked as though both players were clinging on to their opposite man and Morocco's penalty appeals are waved away. Correct. No need for VAR to intervene. 1:25PM 25 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A bit of an ouchy for Ronaldo prompts the Portugal star to roll around in howls, while clutching his ankle (which was caught by Benatia). A foul is given, but no card shown, and Ronaldo's recovery is swift - almost like it didn't hurt that much in the first place. 1:23PM 23 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ziyech, who has been making quite a name for himself at Ajax this season, is causing plenty of problems and this time tries his luck from range. Nothing too troubling for Patricio, but Ziyech is an attacking player of some talent. 1:22PM 22 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Portugal are really struggling to retain possession. Morocco are pressing so high in the opposition half and Portugal are frequently pushed further and further back. Bar the goal, you have to be impressed with how the Moroccans have played so far. 1:19PM 19 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are continuing to cause all sorts of problems. Amrabat and Dirar link up smartly down the right (where all the problems are coming from), before the Morocco right-back pulls the ball back dangerously into the penalty area, but the shot under pressure flies over the bar. 1:17PM 17 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 BREAKING NEWS: Amrabat has just flung his skull cap towards the bench in disgust, revealing his gloriously shaved bonce. 1:16PM 16 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 This game is very open in these early stages. Neither side is sitting back on the ball, which is making for plenty of action. Morocco are a goal behind but not playing poorly at all. They are pressing with vigour. 1:14PM 14 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 The Moroccans are pushing hard at the moment, forcing Portugal deep inside their own half and winning another corner. It is only half-cleared before being delivered again for Da Costa to head well wide. 1:13PM 13 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A couple of nice Ronaldo stats: 85 - Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored more international goals than any other European player in the history of football (85 goals for Portugal). Historic. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/I3wsEJTGlQ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 2 - Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first Portugal player since José Torres in 1966 to score a goal with his right foot, left foot and head in a single World Cup tournament. Collection. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/liZrUSyXmq— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 1:12PM 11 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Credit to Morocco, they haven't responded too badly to going behind and Amrabat is causing problems against an ageing (actually, very much aged) Portugal defence down the right. The north African side win a corner, which finds Da Costa unmarked in the middle of the box and his header is held on the line by Patricio diving low to his right. 1:10PM 9 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Here comes Ronaldo again. Guerreiro is allowed far, far too much space to bring the ball deep inside Morocco's half. Inside it comes to Ronaldo, who attempts to let fly from the edge of the penalty area but scuffs his shot wide of the post. He's in the mood. 1:07PM 6 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 That was such poor marking and Ronaldo is just too good for that. Morocco's World Cup 2018 future is dangling by a thread. 1:05PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL And you don't even need me to tell you who scored it. The corner is whipped to the edge of the six-yard box where Ronaldo is woefully marked. The Real Madrid man flings himself powerfully at the ball and bullets a header past Mohamedi in goal to put Portugal ahead. Portugal 1 - 0 Morocco (Cristiano Ronaldo, 4 min) 1:04PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 Now it is Portugal's turn to venture upfield through Bernardo Silva on the right. He wins a first corner that ends with Guerreiro seeing a shot deflected over for a second corner... 1:02PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 An early foray forward sees the skull-capped Amrabat deliver a cross from the right. Portugal cannot release the pressure and the ball is worked back into the penalty area from the left where Boutaib meets it and heads over the bar. A lively start from the Moroccans. 1:00PM Kick-off Morocco in red get this match underway. Portugal are in white. Morocco must win to keep their hopes of progressing alive. 12:55PM Game time The teams are out and the anthems are being sung. Almost ready. 12:48PM Bang to the head It had been assumed that Amrabat would not feature for Morocco today after he was forced off during the match with Iran when he bashed his head against the floor and suffered a concussion. However, he has been selected and is wearing a Petr Cech-style skull cap in the warm-up. Unsurprisingly, his inclusion in the starting XI has prompted some raised eyebrows. Nordin Amrabat starts. ����#MOR team doctor - Abderrazak Hifti: "I asked him five questions and he could only answer one, I saw clear symptoms of cerebral concussion.” FIFA concussion protocol. Return to competitive play - 6 days ���� pic.twitter.com/m4xi5Coore— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) June 20, 2018 12:45PM Sun shining on the Luzhniki Credit: reuters Credit: reuters 12:36PM Mismatch? JJ Bull has watched every minute of every match so far at this World Cup, and is thus perfectly placed to tell you who is good and who is rubbish. He has produced a handy guide to all 32 teams, ranking them from worst to best after their opening encounters in Russia. READ IT BY CLICKING HERE. The teams involved in this match are ranked second... and 25th. 12:24PM I see some changes Just the one change from the Portugal side that drew 3-3 with Spain: Joao Mario comes in for Bruno Fernandes on the left wing. Morocco have tinkered a bit more after their shock defeat against Iran, making three changes to the side that started that game. Nabil Dirar and Manuel Da Costa come in, which sees Watford's Nordin Amrabat shifted further forward into a midfield role. Khalid Boutaib replaces Ayoub El Kaabi up top. 12:10PM Here are your teams The teams are in for #PORMAR! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/73Cx1XolJV— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 12:05PM The main man Let's focus a little more on the undoubted star of today's show: CR7. I don't know what you're talking about guys, I think the Ronaldo statue looks pretty good pic.twitter.com/JIUwQBuqUY— keewa (@keewa) March 29, 2017 Dashing, isn't he? His hat-trick against Spain was phenomenal and broke or matched a number of records: He joined Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose as only the fourth player to score in four separate World Cup tournaments. He became the first player in history to score in eight consecutive major tournaments (World Cup, European Championships, Copa America). At 33 years and 130 days, he became the oldest hat-trick scorer in World Cup history. At an age when most players are considered either past it or on the decline, Ronaldo has shown no signs of slowing. Consider this: 2006, 2010, 2014 World Cups = 70 shots, 3 goals. 2018 World Cup = 4 shots, 3 goals. Stop him if you can. 11:35AM Ronaldo vs Morocco The meticulously marked out run-up, the ludicrous power pose, the rolled up shorts to expose those bulging thighs, the puff of the cheeks and the fiery stare. Everything about Cristiano Ronaldo's 89th-minute hat-trick goal against Spain last Friday was pure theatre. And wasn't it brilliant? A man who - love him or loathe him - lives for the biggest moments. A man who makes it All. About. Him. And then - THEN - he goes and delivers. If anyone thought Portugal were a one-man team at this World Cup, last Friday's match only reinforced such an opinion. Their 3-3 draw against Spain showcased two things about Portugal's team: Ronaldo's total brilliance and the rest of team's (including your Bernardo Silvas, your Joao Moutinhos etc) bang averageness. That draw means Portugal have emerged from their toughest match of Group B with a point and today they face a Morocco side who were stunned by Iran in their opener. The Moroccans would have come to this World Cup knowing the scale of the task facing them in a group containing Spain and Portugal. The plan: do Iran over and then see if you can get a result against one of the big boys. So much for that. The north African side dominated for much of their opening match, but paid the price for their profligacy in front of goal. Just as it looked like Iran would cling on for an admirable goalless draw, Morocco substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz stuck the ball in his own net in the 95th minute to gift the most unlikely of victories. That has left Morocco in a whole heap of bother. Herve Renard knows his side now cannot afford to lose either of their remaining two games against the two heavyweights of the group. These two sides have met once before at a World Cup and it was Morocco who came out on top in a 3-1 win. That was Portugal's only defeat against African opposition at any World Cup and the bookies have Ronaldo and chums as fairly heavy favourites to triumph today.
Portugal vs Morocco, World Cup 2018 - live score and latest updates as Cristiano Ronaldo scores again
1:44PM 44 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 More smart play by those Moroccan men on the right side. First time, the ball is hacked clear. Second time, the ball is chested back to Patricio to bring an end to the attack. "Guerreiro is making Amrabat look world class," says Martin Keown. 1:42PM 42 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Guedes probably should have done better with that chance. He had a lot of goal to aim at, but stuck it far too close to Mohamedi. 1:40PM 40 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A big chance for Portugal to double their lead! It's come from nothing as Morocco switch off slightly and allow Guedes to latch onto a little Ronaldo dink over the top. The Portugal frontman hits the ball on the run and Mohamedi palms away, moving to his left. Benatia is then booked for a foul on Ronaldo soon after. 1:38PM 38 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A lovely overlap sees Hakimi drive high up the pitch for Morocco, but Boutaib cannot keep hold of the ball inside the Portugal penalty area. Back they come again though and Portugal twice have to hoof the ball clear. 1:36PM 36 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A few fouls coming in from both sides in the middle of the park. Still no yellow cards been shown. Portugal vs Morocco shots on goal 1:32PM 32 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 ... Ronaldo marks out his run-up, pulls up his shorts, puffs his cheeks... and then whacks the ball into the Morocco wall. 1:31PM 31 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are again appealing for a penalty as Fonte crashes into Boutaib inside the penalty area, but the referee isn't interested. Portugal then go straight down the other end and win a free-kick 20 yards out from goal. Step up you know who... 1:30PM 30 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ronaldo has barely got a look for the past 15mins or so. His side just cannot retain possession. Morocco fans at Luzhniki respond to Ronaldo’s complaints by singing ‘Messi, Messi’. An old one but a good one— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) June 20, 2018 1:28PM 28 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Amrabat, playing on the right wing today (he played right-back against Iran) is tearing Guerreiro to pieces every time he gets the ball. He just about wriggles clear of the Portugal left-back, ventures into the Portugal penalty area and then tumbles over as Guerreiro fights back to apply some pressure. It looked as though both players were clinging on to their opposite man and Morocco's penalty appeals are waved away. Correct. No need for VAR to intervene. 1:25PM 25 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A bit of an ouchy for Ronaldo prompts the Portugal star to roll around in howls, while clutching his ankle (which was caught by Benatia). A foul is given, but no card shown, and Ronaldo's recovery is swift - almost like it didn't hurt that much in the first place. 1:23PM 23 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ziyech, who has been making quite a name for himself at Ajax this season, is causing plenty of problems and this time tries his luck from range. Nothing too troubling for Patricio, but Ziyech is an attacking player of some talent. 1:22PM 22 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Portugal are really struggling to retain possession. Morocco are pressing so high in the opposition half and Portugal are frequently pushed further and further back. Bar the goal, you have to be impressed with how the Moroccans have played so far. 1:19PM 19 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are continuing to cause all sorts of problems. Amrabat and Dirar link up smartly down the right (where all the problems are coming from), before the Morocco right-back pulls the ball back dangerously into the penalty area, but the shot under pressure flies over the bar. 1:17PM 17 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 BREAKING NEWS: Amrabat has just flung his skull cap towards the bench in disgust, revealing his gloriously shaved bonce. 1:16PM 16 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 This game is very open in these early stages. Neither side is sitting back on the ball, which is making for plenty of action. Morocco are a goal behind but not playing poorly at all. They are pressing with vigour. 1:14PM 14 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 The Moroccans are pushing hard at the moment, forcing Portugal deep inside their own half and winning another corner. It is only half-cleared before being delivered again for Da Costa to head well wide. 1:13PM 13 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A couple of nice Ronaldo stats: 85 - Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored more international goals than any other European player in the history of football (85 goals for Portugal). Historic. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/I3wsEJTGlQ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 2 - Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first Portugal player since José Torres in 1966 to score a goal with his right foot, left foot and head in a single World Cup tournament. Collection. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/liZrUSyXmq— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 1:12PM 11 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Credit to Morocco, they haven't responded too badly to going behind and Amrabat is causing problems against an ageing (actually, very much aged) Portugal defence down the right. The north African side win a corner, which finds Da Costa unmarked in the middle of the box and his header is held on the line by Patricio diving low to his right. 1:10PM 9 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Here comes Ronaldo again. Guerreiro is allowed far, far too much space to bring the ball deep inside Morocco's half. Inside it comes to Ronaldo, who attempts to let fly from the edge of the penalty area but scuffs his shot wide of the post. He's in the mood. 1:07PM 6 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 That was such poor marking and Ronaldo is just too good for that. Morocco's World Cup 2018 future is dangling by a thread. 1:05PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL And you don't even need me to tell you who scored it. The corner is whipped to the edge of the six-yard box where Ronaldo is woefully marked. The Real Madrid man flings himself powerfully at the ball and bullets a header past Mohamedi in goal to put Portugal ahead. Portugal 1 - 0 Morocco (Cristiano Ronaldo, 4 min) 1:04PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 Now it is Portugal's turn to venture upfield through Bernardo Silva on the right. He wins a first corner that ends with Guerreiro seeing a shot deflected over for a second corner... 1:02PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 An early foray forward sees the skull-capped Amrabat deliver a cross from the right. Portugal cannot release the pressure and the ball is worked back into the penalty area from the left where Boutaib meets it and heads over the bar. A lively start from the Moroccans. 1:00PM Kick-off Morocco in red get this match underway. Portugal are in white. Morocco must win to keep their hopes of progressing alive. 12:55PM Game time The teams are out and the anthems are being sung. Almost ready. 12:48PM Bang to the head It had been assumed that Amrabat would not feature for Morocco today after he was forced off during the match with Iran when he bashed his head against the floor and suffered a concussion. However, he has been selected and is wearing a Petr Cech-style skull cap in the warm-up. Unsurprisingly, his inclusion in the starting XI has prompted some raised eyebrows. Nordin Amrabat starts. ����#MOR team doctor - Abderrazak Hifti: "I asked him five questions and he could only answer one, I saw clear symptoms of cerebral concussion.” FIFA concussion protocol. Return to competitive play - 6 days ���� pic.twitter.com/m4xi5Coore— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) June 20, 2018 12:45PM Sun shining on the Luzhniki Credit: reuters Credit: reuters 12:36PM Mismatch? JJ Bull has watched every minute of every match so far at this World Cup, and is thus perfectly placed to tell you who is good and who is rubbish. He has produced a handy guide to all 32 teams, ranking them from worst to best after their opening encounters in Russia. READ IT BY CLICKING HERE. The teams involved in this match are ranked second... and 25th. 12:24PM I see some changes Just the one change from the Portugal side that drew 3-3 with Spain: Joao Mario comes in for Bruno Fernandes on the left wing. Morocco have tinkered a bit more after their shock defeat against Iran, making three changes to the side that started that game. Nabil Dirar and Manuel Da Costa come in, which sees Watford's Nordin Amrabat shifted further forward into a midfield role. Khalid Boutaib replaces Ayoub El Kaabi up top. 12:10PM Here are your teams The teams are in for #PORMAR! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/73Cx1XolJV— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 12:05PM The main man Let's focus a little more on the undoubted star of today's show: CR7. I don't know what you're talking about guys, I think the Ronaldo statue looks pretty good pic.twitter.com/JIUwQBuqUY— keewa (@keewa) March 29, 2017 Dashing, isn't he? His hat-trick against Spain was phenomenal and broke or matched a number of records: He joined Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose as only the fourth player to score in four separate World Cup tournaments. He became the first player in history to score in eight consecutive major tournaments (World Cup, European Championships, Copa America). At 33 years and 130 days, he became the oldest hat-trick scorer in World Cup history. At an age when most players are considered either past it or on the decline, Ronaldo has shown no signs of slowing. Consider this: 2006, 2010, 2014 World Cups = 70 shots, 3 goals. 2018 World Cup = 4 shots, 3 goals. Stop him if you can. 11:35AM Ronaldo vs Morocco The meticulously marked out run-up, the ludicrous power pose, the rolled up shorts to expose those bulging thighs, the puff of the cheeks and the fiery stare. Everything about Cristiano Ronaldo's 89th-minute hat-trick goal against Spain last Friday was pure theatre. And wasn't it brilliant? A man who - love him or loathe him - lives for the biggest moments. A man who makes it All. About. Him. And then - THEN - he goes and delivers. If anyone thought Portugal were a one-man team at this World Cup, last Friday's match only reinforced such an opinion. Their 3-3 draw against Spain showcased two things about Portugal's team: Ronaldo's total brilliance and the rest of team's (including your Bernardo Silvas, your Joao Moutinhos etc) bang averageness. That draw means Portugal have emerged from their toughest match of Group B with a point and today they face a Morocco side who were stunned by Iran in their opener. The Moroccans would have come to this World Cup knowing the scale of the task facing them in a group containing Spain and Portugal. The plan: do Iran over and then see if you can get a result against one of the big boys. So much for that. The north African side dominated for much of their opening match, but paid the price for their profligacy in front of goal. Just as it looked like Iran would cling on for an admirable goalless draw, Morocco substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz stuck the ball in his own net in the 95th minute to gift the most unlikely of victories. That has left Morocco in a whole heap of bother. Herve Renard knows his side now cannot afford to lose either of their remaining two games against the two heavyweights of the group. These two sides have met once before at a World Cup and it was Morocco who came out on top in a 3-1 win. That was Portugal's only defeat against African opposition at any World Cup and the bookies have Ronaldo and chums as fairly heavy favourites to triumph today.
1:44PM 44 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 More smart play by those Moroccan men on the right side. First time, the ball is hacked clear. Second time, the ball is chested back to Patricio to bring an end to the attack. "Guerreiro is making Amrabat look world class," says Martin Keown. 1:42PM 42 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Guedes probably should have done better with that chance. He had a lot of goal to aim at, but stuck it far too close to Mohamedi. 1:40PM 40 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A big chance for Portugal to double their lead! It's come from nothing as Morocco switch off slightly and allow Guedes to latch onto a little Ronaldo dink over the top. The Portugal frontman hits the ball on the run and Mohamedi palms away, moving to his left. Benatia is then booked for a foul on Ronaldo soon after. 1:38PM 38 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A lovely overlap sees Hakimi drive high up the pitch for Morocco, but Boutaib cannot keep hold of the ball inside the Portugal penalty area. Back they come again though and Portugal twice have to hoof the ball clear. 1:36PM 36 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A few fouls coming in from both sides in the middle of the park. Still no yellow cards been shown. Portugal vs Morocco shots on goal 1:32PM 32 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 ... Ronaldo marks out his run-up, pulls up his shorts, puffs his cheeks... and then whacks the ball into the Morocco wall. 1:31PM 31 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are again appealing for a penalty as Fonte crashes into Boutaib inside the penalty area, but the referee isn't interested. Portugal then go straight down the other end and win a free-kick 20 yards out from goal. Step up you know who... 1:30PM 30 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ronaldo has barely got a look for the past 15mins or so. His side just cannot retain possession. Morocco fans at Luzhniki respond to Ronaldo’s complaints by singing ‘Messi, Messi’. An old one but a good one— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) June 20, 2018 1:28PM 28 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Amrabat, playing on the right wing today (he played right-back against Iran) is tearing Guerreiro to pieces every time he gets the ball. He just about wriggles clear of the Portugal left-back, ventures into the Portugal penalty area and then tumbles over as Guerreiro fights back to apply some pressure. It looked as though both players were clinging on to their opposite man and Morocco's penalty appeals are waved away. Correct. No need for VAR to intervene. 1:25PM 25 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A bit of an ouchy for Ronaldo prompts the Portugal star to roll around in howls, while clutching his ankle (which was caught by Benatia). A foul is given, but no card shown, and Ronaldo's recovery is swift - almost like it didn't hurt that much in the first place. 1:23PM 23 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ziyech, who has been making quite a name for himself at Ajax this season, is causing plenty of problems and this time tries his luck from range. Nothing too troubling for Patricio, but Ziyech is an attacking player of some talent. 1:22PM 22 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Portugal are really struggling to retain possession. Morocco are pressing so high in the opposition half and Portugal are frequently pushed further and further back. Bar the goal, you have to be impressed with how the Moroccans have played so far. 1:19PM 19 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are continuing to cause all sorts of problems. Amrabat and Dirar link up smartly down the right (where all the problems are coming from), before the Morocco right-back pulls the ball back dangerously into the penalty area, but the shot under pressure flies over the bar. 1:17PM 17 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 BREAKING NEWS: Amrabat has just flung his skull cap towards the bench in disgust, revealing his gloriously shaved bonce. 1:16PM 16 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 This game is very open in these early stages. Neither side is sitting back on the ball, which is making for plenty of action. Morocco are a goal behind but not playing poorly at all. They are pressing with vigour. 1:14PM 14 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 The Moroccans are pushing hard at the moment, forcing Portugal deep inside their own half and winning another corner. It is only half-cleared before being delivered again for Da Costa to head well wide. 1:13PM 13 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A couple of nice Ronaldo stats: 85 - Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored more international goals than any other European player in the history of football (85 goals for Portugal). Historic. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/I3wsEJTGlQ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 2 - Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first Portugal player since José Torres in 1966 to score a goal with his right foot, left foot and head in a single World Cup tournament. Collection. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/liZrUSyXmq— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 1:12PM 11 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Credit to Morocco, they haven't responded too badly to going behind and Amrabat is causing problems against an ageing (actually, very much aged) Portugal defence down the right. The north African side win a corner, which finds Da Costa unmarked in the middle of the box and his header is held on the line by Patricio diving low to his right. 1:10PM 9 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Here comes Ronaldo again. Guerreiro is allowed far, far too much space to bring the ball deep inside Morocco's half. Inside it comes to Ronaldo, who attempts to let fly from the edge of the penalty area but scuffs his shot wide of the post. He's in the mood. 1:07PM 6 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 That was such poor marking and Ronaldo is just too good for that. Morocco's World Cup 2018 future is dangling by a thread. 1:05PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL And you don't even need me to tell you who scored it. The corner is whipped to the edge of the six-yard box where Ronaldo is woefully marked. The Real Madrid man flings himself powerfully at the ball and bullets a header past Mohamedi in goal to put Portugal ahead. Portugal 1 - 0 Morocco (Cristiano Ronaldo, 4 min) 1:04PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 Now it is Portugal's turn to venture upfield through Bernardo Silva on the right. He wins a first corner that ends with Guerreiro seeing a shot deflected over for a second corner... 1:02PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 An early foray forward sees the skull-capped Amrabat deliver a cross from the right. Portugal cannot release the pressure and the ball is worked back into the penalty area from the left where Boutaib meets it and heads over the bar. A lively start from the Moroccans. 1:00PM Kick-off Morocco in red get this match underway. Portugal are in white. Morocco must win to keep their hopes of progressing alive. 12:55PM Game time The teams are out and the anthems are being sung. Almost ready. 12:48PM Bang to the head It had been assumed that Amrabat would not feature for Morocco today after he was forced off during the match with Iran when he bashed his head against the floor and suffered a concussion. However, he has been selected and is wearing a Petr Cech-style skull cap in the warm-up. Unsurprisingly, his inclusion in the starting XI has prompted some raised eyebrows. Nordin Amrabat starts. ����#MOR team doctor - Abderrazak Hifti: "I asked him five questions and he could only answer one, I saw clear symptoms of cerebral concussion.” FIFA concussion protocol. Return to competitive play - 6 days ���� pic.twitter.com/m4xi5Coore— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) June 20, 2018 12:45PM Sun shining on the Luzhniki Credit: reuters Credit: reuters 12:36PM Mismatch? JJ Bull has watched every minute of every match so far at this World Cup, and is thus perfectly placed to tell you who is good and who is rubbish. He has produced a handy guide to all 32 teams, ranking them from worst to best after their opening encounters in Russia. READ IT BY CLICKING HERE. The teams involved in this match are ranked second... and 25th. 12:24PM I see some changes Just the one change from the Portugal side that drew 3-3 with Spain: Joao Mario comes in for Bruno Fernandes on the left wing. Morocco have tinkered a bit more after their shock defeat against Iran, making three changes to the side that started that game. Nabil Dirar and Manuel Da Costa come in, which sees Watford's Nordin Amrabat shifted further forward into a midfield role. Khalid Boutaib replaces Ayoub El Kaabi up top. 12:10PM Here are your teams The teams are in for #PORMAR! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/73Cx1XolJV— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 12:05PM The main man Let's focus a little more on the undoubted star of today's show: CR7. I don't know what you're talking about guys, I think the Ronaldo statue looks pretty good pic.twitter.com/JIUwQBuqUY— keewa (@keewa) March 29, 2017 Dashing, isn't he? His hat-trick against Spain was phenomenal and broke or matched a number of records: He joined Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose as only the fourth player to score in four separate World Cup tournaments. He became the first player in history to score in eight consecutive major tournaments (World Cup, European Championships, Copa America). At 33 years and 130 days, he became the oldest hat-trick scorer in World Cup history. At an age when most players are considered either past it or on the decline, Ronaldo has shown no signs of slowing. Consider this: 2006, 2010, 2014 World Cups = 70 shots, 3 goals. 2018 World Cup = 4 shots, 3 goals. Stop him if you can. 11:35AM Ronaldo vs Morocco The meticulously marked out run-up, the ludicrous power pose, the rolled up shorts to expose those bulging thighs, the puff of the cheeks and the fiery stare. Everything about Cristiano Ronaldo's 89th-minute hat-trick goal against Spain last Friday was pure theatre. And wasn't it brilliant? A man who - love him or loathe him - lives for the biggest moments. A man who makes it All. About. Him. And then - THEN - he goes and delivers. If anyone thought Portugal were a one-man team at this World Cup, last Friday's match only reinforced such an opinion. Their 3-3 draw against Spain showcased two things about Portugal's team: Ronaldo's total brilliance and the rest of team's (including your Bernardo Silvas, your Joao Moutinhos etc) bang averageness. That draw means Portugal have emerged from their toughest match of Group B with a point and today they face a Morocco side who were stunned by Iran in their opener. The Moroccans would have come to this World Cup knowing the scale of the task facing them in a group containing Spain and Portugal. The plan: do Iran over and then see if you can get a result against one of the big boys. So much for that. The north African side dominated for much of their opening match, but paid the price for their profligacy in front of goal. Just as it looked like Iran would cling on for an admirable goalless draw, Morocco substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz stuck the ball in his own net in the 95th minute to gift the most unlikely of victories. That has left Morocco in a whole heap of bother. Herve Renard knows his side now cannot afford to lose either of their remaining two games against the two heavyweights of the group. These two sides have met once before at a World Cup and it was Morocco who came out on top in a 3-1 win. That was Portugal's only defeat against African opposition at any World Cup and the bookies have Ronaldo and chums as fairly heavy favourites to triumph today.
Portugal vs Morocco, World Cup 2018 - live score and latest updates as Cristiano Ronaldo scores again
1:44PM 44 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 More smart play by those Moroccan men on the right side. First time, the ball is hacked clear. Second time, the ball is chested back to Patricio to bring an end to the attack. "Guerreiro is making Amrabat look world class," says Martin Keown. 1:42PM 42 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Guedes probably should have done better with that chance. He had a lot of goal to aim at, but stuck it far too close to Mohamedi. 1:40PM 40 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A big chance for Portugal to double their lead! It's come from nothing as Morocco switch off slightly and allow Guedes to latch onto a little Ronaldo dink over the top. The Portugal frontman hits the ball on the run and Mohamedi palms away, moving to his left. Benatia is then booked for a foul on Ronaldo soon after. 1:38PM 38 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A lovely overlap sees Hakimi drive high up the pitch for Morocco, but Boutaib cannot keep hold of the ball inside the Portugal penalty area. Back they come again though and Portugal twice have to hoof the ball clear. 1:36PM 36 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A few fouls coming in from both sides in the middle of the park. Still no yellow cards been shown. Portugal vs Morocco shots on goal 1:32PM 32 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 ... Ronaldo marks out his run-up, pulls up his shorts, puffs his cheeks... and then whacks the ball into the Morocco wall. 1:31PM 31 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are again appealing for a penalty as Fonte crashes into Boutaib inside the penalty area, but the referee isn't interested. Portugal then go straight down the other end and win a free-kick 20 yards out from goal. Step up you know who... 1:30PM 30 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ronaldo has barely got a look for the past 15mins or so. His side just cannot retain possession. Morocco fans at Luzhniki respond to Ronaldo’s complaints by singing ‘Messi, Messi’. An old one but a good one— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) June 20, 2018 1:28PM 28 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Amrabat, playing on the right wing today (he played right-back against Iran) is tearing Guerreiro to pieces every time he gets the ball. He just about wriggles clear of the Portugal left-back, ventures into the Portugal penalty area and then tumbles over as Guerreiro fights back to apply some pressure. It looked as though both players were clinging on to their opposite man and Morocco's penalty appeals are waved away. Correct. No need for VAR to intervene. 1:25PM 25 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A bit of an ouchy for Ronaldo prompts the Portugal star to roll around in howls, while clutching his ankle (which was caught by Benatia). A foul is given, but no card shown, and Ronaldo's recovery is swift - almost like it didn't hurt that much in the first place. 1:23PM 23 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ziyech, who has been making quite a name for himself at Ajax this season, is causing plenty of problems and this time tries his luck from range. Nothing too troubling for Patricio, but Ziyech is an attacking player of some talent. 1:22PM 22 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Portugal are really struggling to retain possession. Morocco are pressing so high in the opposition half and Portugal are frequently pushed further and further back. Bar the goal, you have to be impressed with how the Moroccans have played so far. 1:19PM 19 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are continuing to cause all sorts of problems. Amrabat and Dirar link up smartly down the right (where all the problems are coming from), before the Morocco right-back pulls the ball back dangerously into the penalty area, but the shot under pressure flies over the bar. 1:17PM 17 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 BREAKING NEWS: Amrabat has just flung his skull cap towards the bench in disgust, revealing his gloriously shaved bonce. 1:16PM 16 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 This game is very open in these early stages. Neither side is sitting back on the ball, which is making for plenty of action. Morocco are a goal behind but not playing poorly at all. They are pressing with vigour. 1:14PM 14 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 The Moroccans are pushing hard at the moment, forcing Portugal deep inside their own half and winning another corner. It is only half-cleared before being delivered again for Da Costa to head well wide. 1:13PM 13 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A couple of nice Ronaldo stats: 85 - Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored more international goals than any other European player in the history of football (85 goals for Portugal). Historic. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/I3wsEJTGlQ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 2 - Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first Portugal player since José Torres in 1966 to score a goal with his right foot, left foot and head in a single World Cup tournament. Collection. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/liZrUSyXmq— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 1:12PM 11 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Credit to Morocco, they haven't responded too badly to going behind and Amrabat is causing problems against an ageing (actually, very much aged) Portugal defence down the right. The north African side win a corner, which finds Da Costa unmarked in the middle of the box and his header is held on the line by Patricio diving low to his right. 1:10PM 9 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Here comes Ronaldo again. Guerreiro is allowed far, far too much space to bring the ball deep inside Morocco's half. Inside it comes to Ronaldo, who attempts to let fly from the edge of the penalty area but scuffs his shot wide of the post. He's in the mood. 1:07PM 6 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 That was such poor marking and Ronaldo is just too good for that. Morocco's World Cup 2018 future is dangling by a thread. 1:05PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL And you don't even need me to tell you who scored it. The corner is whipped to the edge of the six-yard box where Ronaldo is woefully marked. The Real Madrid man flings himself powerfully at the ball and bullets a header past Mohamedi in goal to put Portugal ahead. Portugal 1 - 0 Morocco (Cristiano Ronaldo, 4 min) 1:04PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 Now it is Portugal's turn to venture upfield through Bernardo Silva on the right. He wins a first corner that ends with Guerreiro seeing a shot deflected over for a second corner... 1:02PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 An early foray forward sees the skull-capped Amrabat deliver a cross from the right. Portugal cannot release the pressure and the ball is worked back into the penalty area from the left where Boutaib meets it and heads over the bar. A lively start from the Moroccans. 1:00PM Kick-off Morocco in red get this match underway. Portugal are in white. Morocco must win to keep their hopes of progressing alive. 12:55PM Game time The teams are out and the anthems are being sung. Almost ready. 12:48PM Bang to the head It had been assumed that Amrabat would not feature for Morocco today after he was forced off during the match with Iran when he bashed his head against the floor and suffered a concussion. However, he has been selected and is wearing a Petr Cech-style skull cap in the warm-up. Unsurprisingly, his inclusion in the starting XI has prompted some raised eyebrows. Nordin Amrabat starts. ����#MOR team doctor - Abderrazak Hifti: "I asked him five questions and he could only answer one, I saw clear symptoms of cerebral concussion.” FIFA concussion protocol. Return to competitive play - 6 days ���� pic.twitter.com/m4xi5Coore— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) June 20, 2018 12:45PM Sun shining on the Luzhniki Credit: reuters Credit: reuters 12:36PM Mismatch? JJ Bull has watched every minute of every match so far at this World Cup, and is thus perfectly placed to tell you who is good and who is rubbish. He has produced a handy guide to all 32 teams, ranking them from worst to best after their opening encounters in Russia. READ IT BY CLICKING HERE. The teams involved in this match are ranked second... and 25th. 12:24PM I see some changes Just the one change from the Portugal side that drew 3-3 with Spain: Joao Mario comes in for Bruno Fernandes on the left wing. Morocco have tinkered a bit more after their shock defeat against Iran, making three changes to the side that started that game. Nabil Dirar and Manuel Da Costa come in, which sees Watford's Nordin Amrabat shifted further forward into a midfield role. Khalid Boutaib replaces Ayoub El Kaabi up top. 12:10PM Here are your teams The teams are in for #PORMAR! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/73Cx1XolJV— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 12:05PM The main man Let's focus a little more on the undoubted star of today's show: CR7. I don't know what you're talking about guys, I think the Ronaldo statue looks pretty good pic.twitter.com/JIUwQBuqUY— keewa (@keewa) March 29, 2017 Dashing, isn't he? His hat-trick against Spain was phenomenal and broke or matched a number of records: He joined Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose as only the fourth player to score in four separate World Cup tournaments. He became the first player in history to score in eight consecutive major tournaments (World Cup, European Championships, Copa America). At 33 years and 130 days, he became the oldest hat-trick scorer in World Cup history. At an age when most players are considered either past it or on the decline, Ronaldo has shown no signs of slowing. Consider this: 2006, 2010, 2014 World Cups = 70 shots, 3 goals. 2018 World Cup = 4 shots, 3 goals. Stop him if you can. 11:35AM Ronaldo vs Morocco The meticulously marked out run-up, the ludicrous power pose, the rolled up shorts to expose those bulging thighs, the puff of the cheeks and the fiery stare. Everything about Cristiano Ronaldo's 89th-minute hat-trick goal against Spain last Friday was pure theatre. And wasn't it brilliant? A man who - love him or loathe him - lives for the biggest moments. A man who makes it All. About. Him. And then - THEN - he goes and delivers. If anyone thought Portugal were a one-man team at this World Cup, last Friday's match only reinforced such an opinion. Their 3-3 draw against Spain showcased two things about Portugal's team: Ronaldo's total brilliance and the rest of team's (including your Bernardo Silvas, your Joao Moutinhos etc) bang averageness. That draw means Portugal have emerged from their toughest match of Group B with a point and today they face a Morocco side who were stunned by Iran in their opener. The Moroccans would have come to this World Cup knowing the scale of the task facing them in a group containing Spain and Portugal. The plan: do Iran over and then see if you can get a result against one of the big boys. So much for that. The north African side dominated for much of their opening match, but paid the price for their profligacy in front of goal. Just as it looked like Iran would cling on for an admirable goalless draw, Morocco substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz stuck the ball in his own net in the 95th minute to gift the most unlikely of victories. That has left Morocco in a whole heap of bother. Herve Renard knows his side now cannot afford to lose either of their remaining two games against the two heavyweights of the group. These two sides have met once before at a World Cup and it was Morocco who came out on top in a 3-1 win. That was Portugal's only defeat against African opposition at any World Cup and the bookies have Ronaldo and chums as fairly heavy favourites to triumph today.
1:44PM 44 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 More smart play by those Moroccan men on the right side. First time, the ball is hacked clear. Second time, the ball is chested back to Patricio to bring an end to the attack. "Guerreiro is making Amrabat look world class," says Martin Keown. 1:42PM 42 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Guedes probably should have done better with that chance. He had a lot of goal to aim at, but stuck it far too close to Mohamedi. 1:40PM 40 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A big chance for Portugal to double their lead! It's come from nothing as Morocco switch off slightly and allow Guedes to latch onto a little Ronaldo dink over the top. The Portugal frontman hits the ball on the run and Mohamedi palms away, moving to his left. Benatia is then booked for a foul on Ronaldo soon after. 1:38PM 38 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A lovely overlap sees Hakimi drive high up the pitch for Morocco, but Boutaib cannot keep hold of the ball inside the Portugal penalty area. Back they come again though and Portugal twice have to hoof the ball clear. 1:36PM 36 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A few fouls coming in from both sides in the middle of the park. Still no yellow cards been shown. Portugal vs Morocco shots on goal 1:32PM 32 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 ... Ronaldo marks out his run-up, pulls up his shorts, puffs his cheeks... and then whacks the ball into the Morocco wall. 1:31PM 31 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are again appealing for a penalty as Fonte crashes into Boutaib inside the penalty area, but the referee isn't interested. Portugal then go straight down the other end and win a free-kick 20 yards out from goal. Step up you know who... 1:30PM 30 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ronaldo has barely got a look for the past 15mins or so. His side just cannot retain possession. Morocco fans at Luzhniki respond to Ronaldo’s complaints by singing ‘Messi, Messi’. An old one but a good one— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) June 20, 2018 1:28PM 28 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Amrabat, playing on the right wing today (he played right-back against Iran) is tearing Guerreiro to pieces every time he gets the ball. He just about wriggles clear of the Portugal left-back, ventures into the Portugal penalty area and then tumbles over as Guerreiro fights back to apply some pressure. It looked as though both players were clinging on to their opposite man and Morocco's penalty appeals are waved away. Correct. No need for VAR to intervene. 1:25PM 25 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A bit of an ouchy for Ronaldo prompts the Portugal star to roll around in howls, while clutching his ankle (which was caught by Benatia). A foul is given, but no card shown, and Ronaldo's recovery is swift - almost like it didn't hurt that much in the first place. 1:23PM 23 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ziyech, who has been making quite a name for himself at Ajax this season, is causing plenty of problems and this time tries his luck from range. Nothing too troubling for Patricio, but Ziyech is an attacking player of some talent. 1:22PM 22 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Portugal are really struggling to retain possession. Morocco are pressing so high in the opposition half and Portugal are frequently pushed further and further back. Bar the goal, you have to be impressed with how the Moroccans have played so far. 1:19PM 19 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are continuing to cause all sorts of problems. Amrabat and Dirar link up smartly down the right (where all the problems are coming from), before the Morocco right-back pulls the ball back dangerously into the penalty area, but the shot under pressure flies over the bar. 1:17PM 17 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 BREAKING NEWS: Amrabat has just flung his skull cap towards the bench in disgust, revealing his gloriously shaved bonce. 1:16PM 16 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 This game is very open in these early stages. Neither side is sitting back on the ball, which is making for plenty of action. Morocco are a goal behind but not playing poorly at all. They are pressing with vigour. 1:14PM 14 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 The Moroccans are pushing hard at the moment, forcing Portugal deep inside their own half and winning another corner. It is only half-cleared before being delivered again for Da Costa to head well wide. 1:13PM 13 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A couple of nice Ronaldo stats: 85 - Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored more international goals than any other European player in the history of football (85 goals for Portugal). Historic. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/I3wsEJTGlQ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 2 - Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first Portugal player since José Torres in 1966 to score a goal with his right foot, left foot and head in a single World Cup tournament. Collection. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/liZrUSyXmq— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 1:12PM 11 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Credit to Morocco, they haven't responded too badly to going behind and Amrabat is causing problems against an ageing (actually, very much aged) Portugal defence down the right. The north African side win a corner, which finds Da Costa unmarked in the middle of the box and his header is held on the line by Patricio diving low to his right. 1:10PM 9 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Here comes Ronaldo again. Guerreiro is allowed far, far too much space to bring the ball deep inside Morocco's half. Inside it comes to Ronaldo, who attempts to let fly from the edge of the penalty area but scuffs his shot wide of the post. He's in the mood. 1:07PM 6 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 That was such poor marking and Ronaldo is just too good for that. Morocco's World Cup 2018 future is dangling by a thread. 1:05PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL And you don't even need me to tell you who scored it. The corner is whipped to the edge of the six-yard box where Ronaldo is woefully marked. The Real Madrid man flings himself powerfully at the ball and bullets a header past Mohamedi in goal to put Portugal ahead. Portugal 1 - 0 Morocco (Cristiano Ronaldo, 4 min) 1:04PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 Now it is Portugal's turn to venture upfield through Bernardo Silva on the right. He wins a first corner that ends with Guerreiro seeing a shot deflected over for a second corner... 1:02PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 An early foray forward sees the skull-capped Amrabat deliver a cross from the right. Portugal cannot release the pressure and the ball is worked back into the penalty area from the left where Boutaib meets it and heads over the bar. A lively start from the Moroccans. 1:00PM Kick-off Morocco in red get this match underway. Portugal are in white. Morocco must win to keep their hopes of progressing alive. 12:55PM Game time The teams are out and the anthems are being sung. Almost ready. 12:48PM Bang to the head It had been assumed that Amrabat would not feature for Morocco today after he was forced off during the match with Iran when he bashed his head against the floor and suffered a concussion. However, he has been selected and is wearing a Petr Cech-style skull cap in the warm-up. Unsurprisingly, his inclusion in the starting XI has prompted some raised eyebrows. Nordin Amrabat starts. ����#MOR team doctor - Abderrazak Hifti: "I asked him five questions and he could only answer one, I saw clear symptoms of cerebral concussion.” FIFA concussion protocol. Return to competitive play - 6 days ���� pic.twitter.com/m4xi5Coore— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) June 20, 2018 12:45PM Sun shining on the Luzhniki Credit: reuters Credit: reuters 12:36PM Mismatch? JJ Bull has watched every minute of every match so far at this World Cup, and is thus perfectly placed to tell you who is good and who is rubbish. He has produced a handy guide to all 32 teams, ranking them from worst to best after their opening encounters in Russia. READ IT BY CLICKING HERE. The teams involved in this match are ranked second... and 25th. 12:24PM I see some changes Just the one change from the Portugal side that drew 3-3 with Spain: Joao Mario comes in for Bruno Fernandes on the left wing. Morocco have tinkered a bit more after their shock defeat against Iran, making three changes to the side that started that game. Nabil Dirar and Manuel Da Costa come in, which sees Watford's Nordin Amrabat shifted further forward into a midfield role. Khalid Boutaib replaces Ayoub El Kaabi up top. 12:10PM Here are your teams The teams are in for #PORMAR! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/73Cx1XolJV— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 12:05PM The main man Let's focus a little more on the undoubted star of today's show: CR7. I don't know what you're talking about guys, I think the Ronaldo statue looks pretty good pic.twitter.com/JIUwQBuqUY— keewa (@keewa) March 29, 2017 Dashing, isn't he? His hat-trick against Spain was phenomenal and broke or matched a number of records: He joined Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose as only the fourth player to score in four separate World Cup tournaments. He became the first player in history to score in eight consecutive major tournaments (World Cup, European Championships, Copa America). At 33 years and 130 days, he became the oldest hat-trick scorer in World Cup history. At an age when most players are considered either past it or on the decline, Ronaldo has shown no signs of slowing. Consider this: 2006, 2010, 2014 World Cups = 70 shots, 3 goals. 2018 World Cup = 4 shots, 3 goals. Stop him if you can. 11:35AM Ronaldo vs Morocco The meticulously marked out run-up, the ludicrous power pose, the rolled up shorts to expose those bulging thighs, the puff of the cheeks and the fiery stare. Everything about Cristiano Ronaldo's 89th-minute hat-trick goal against Spain last Friday was pure theatre. And wasn't it brilliant? A man who - love him or loathe him - lives for the biggest moments. A man who makes it All. About. Him. And then - THEN - he goes and delivers. If anyone thought Portugal were a one-man team at this World Cup, last Friday's match only reinforced such an opinion. Their 3-3 draw against Spain showcased two things about Portugal's team: Ronaldo's total brilliance and the rest of team's (including your Bernardo Silvas, your Joao Moutinhos etc) bang averageness. That draw means Portugal have emerged from their toughest match of Group B with a point and today they face a Morocco side who were stunned by Iran in their opener. The Moroccans would have come to this World Cup knowing the scale of the task facing them in a group containing Spain and Portugal. The plan: do Iran over and then see if you can get a result against one of the big boys. So much for that. The north African side dominated for much of their opening match, but paid the price for their profligacy in front of goal. Just as it looked like Iran would cling on for an admirable goalless draw, Morocco substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz stuck the ball in his own net in the 95th minute to gift the most unlikely of victories. That has left Morocco in a whole heap of bother. Herve Renard knows his side now cannot afford to lose either of their remaining two games against the two heavyweights of the group. These two sides have met once before at a World Cup and it was Morocco who came out on top in a 3-1 win. That was Portugal's only defeat against African opposition at any World Cup and the bookies have Ronaldo and chums as fairly heavy favourites to triumph today.
Portugal vs Morocco, World Cup 2018 - live score and latest updates as Cristiano Ronaldo scores again
1:44PM 44 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 More smart play by those Moroccan men on the right side. First time, the ball is hacked clear. Second time, the ball is chested back to Patricio to bring an end to the attack. "Guerreiro is making Amrabat look world class," says Martin Keown. 1:42PM 42 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Guedes probably should have done better with that chance. He had a lot of goal to aim at, but stuck it far too close to Mohamedi. 1:40PM 40 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A big chance for Portugal to double their lead! It's come from nothing as Morocco switch off slightly and allow Guedes to latch onto a little Ronaldo dink over the top. The Portugal frontman hits the ball on the run and Mohamedi palms away, moving to his left. Benatia is then booked for a foul on Ronaldo soon after. 1:38PM 38 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A lovely overlap sees Hakimi drive high up the pitch for Morocco, but Boutaib cannot keep hold of the ball inside the Portugal penalty area. Back they come again though and Portugal twice have to hoof the ball clear. 1:36PM 36 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A few fouls coming in from both sides in the middle of the park. Still no yellow cards been shown. Portugal vs Morocco shots on goal 1:32PM 32 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 ... Ronaldo marks out his run-up, pulls up his shorts, puffs his cheeks... and then whacks the ball into the Morocco wall. 1:31PM 31 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are again appealing for a penalty as Fonte crashes into Boutaib inside the penalty area, but the referee isn't interested. Portugal then go straight down the other end and win a free-kick 20 yards out from goal. Step up you know who... 1:30PM 30 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ronaldo has barely got a look for the past 15mins or so. His side just cannot retain possession. Morocco fans at Luzhniki respond to Ronaldo’s complaints by singing ‘Messi, Messi’. An old one but a good one— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) June 20, 2018 1:28PM 28 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Amrabat, playing on the right wing today (he played right-back against Iran) is tearing Guerreiro to pieces every time he gets the ball. He just about wriggles clear of the Portugal left-back, ventures into the Portugal penalty area and then tumbles over as Guerreiro fights back to apply some pressure. It looked as though both players were clinging on to their opposite man and Morocco's penalty appeals are waved away. Correct. No need for VAR to intervene. 1:25PM 25 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A bit of an ouchy for Ronaldo prompts the Portugal star to roll around in howls, while clutching his ankle (which was caught by Benatia). A foul is given, but no card shown, and Ronaldo's recovery is swift - almost like it didn't hurt that much in the first place. 1:23PM 23 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ziyech, who has been making quite a name for himself at Ajax this season, is causing plenty of problems and this time tries his luck from range. Nothing too troubling for Patricio, but Ziyech is an attacking player of some talent. 1:22PM 22 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Portugal are really struggling to retain possession. Morocco are pressing so high in the opposition half and Portugal are frequently pushed further and further back. Bar the goal, you have to be impressed with how the Moroccans have played so far. 1:19PM 19 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are continuing to cause all sorts of problems. Amrabat and Dirar link up smartly down the right (where all the problems are coming from), before the Morocco right-back pulls the ball back dangerously into the penalty area, but the shot under pressure flies over the bar. 1:17PM 17 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 BREAKING NEWS: Amrabat has just flung his skull cap towards the bench in disgust, revealing his gloriously shaved bonce. 1:16PM 16 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 This game is very open in these early stages. Neither side is sitting back on the ball, which is making for plenty of action. Morocco are a goal behind but not playing poorly at all. They are pressing with vigour. 1:14PM 14 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 The Moroccans are pushing hard at the moment, forcing Portugal deep inside their own half and winning another corner. It is only half-cleared before being delivered again for Da Costa to head well wide. 1:13PM 13 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A couple of nice Ronaldo stats: 85 - Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored more international goals than any other European player in the history of football (85 goals for Portugal). Historic. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/I3wsEJTGlQ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 2 - Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first Portugal player since José Torres in 1966 to score a goal with his right foot, left foot and head in a single World Cup tournament. Collection. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/liZrUSyXmq— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 1:12PM 11 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Credit to Morocco, they haven't responded too badly to going behind and Amrabat is causing problems against an ageing (actually, very much aged) Portugal defence down the right. The north African side win a corner, which finds Da Costa unmarked in the middle of the box and his header is held on the line by Patricio diving low to his right. 1:10PM 9 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Here comes Ronaldo again. Guerreiro is allowed far, far too much space to bring the ball deep inside Morocco's half. Inside it comes to Ronaldo, who attempts to let fly from the edge of the penalty area but scuffs his shot wide of the post. He's in the mood. 1:07PM 6 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 That was such poor marking and Ronaldo is just too good for that. Morocco's World Cup 2018 future is dangling by a thread. 1:05PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL And you don't even need me to tell you who scored it. The corner is whipped to the edge of the six-yard box where Ronaldo is woefully marked. The Real Madrid man flings himself powerfully at the ball and bullets a header past Mohamedi in goal to put Portugal ahead. Portugal 1 - 0 Morocco (Cristiano Ronaldo, 4 min) 1:04PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 Now it is Portugal's turn to venture upfield through Bernardo Silva on the right. He wins a first corner that ends with Guerreiro seeing a shot deflected over for a second corner... 1:02PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 An early foray forward sees the skull-capped Amrabat deliver a cross from the right. Portugal cannot release the pressure and the ball is worked back into the penalty area from the left where Boutaib meets it and heads over the bar. A lively start from the Moroccans. 1:00PM Kick-off Morocco in red get this match underway. Portugal are in white. Morocco must win to keep their hopes of progressing alive. 12:55PM Game time The teams are out and the anthems are being sung. Almost ready. 12:48PM Bang to the head It had been assumed that Amrabat would not feature for Morocco today after he was forced off during the match with Iran when he bashed his head against the floor and suffered a concussion. However, he has been selected and is wearing a Petr Cech-style skull cap in the warm-up. Unsurprisingly, his inclusion in the starting XI has prompted some raised eyebrows. Nordin Amrabat starts. ����#MOR team doctor - Abderrazak Hifti: "I asked him five questions and he could only answer one, I saw clear symptoms of cerebral concussion.” FIFA concussion protocol. Return to competitive play - 6 days ���� pic.twitter.com/m4xi5Coore— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) June 20, 2018 12:45PM Sun shining on the Luzhniki Credit: reuters Credit: reuters 12:36PM Mismatch? JJ Bull has watched every minute of every match so far at this World Cup, and is thus perfectly placed to tell you who is good and who is rubbish. He has produced a handy guide to all 32 teams, ranking them from worst to best after their opening encounters in Russia. READ IT BY CLICKING HERE. The teams involved in this match are ranked second... and 25th. 12:24PM I see some changes Just the one change from the Portugal side that drew 3-3 with Spain: Joao Mario comes in for Bruno Fernandes on the left wing. Morocco have tinkered a bit more after their shock defeat against Iran, making three changes to the side that started that game. Nabil Dirar and Manuel Da Costa come in, which sees Watford's Nordin Amrabat shifted further forward into a midfield role. Khalid Boutaib replaces Ayoub El Kaabi up top. 12:10PM Here are your teams The teams are in for #PORMAR! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/73Cx1XolJV— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 12:05PM The main man Let's focus a little more on the undoubted star of today's show: CR7. I don't know what you're talking about guys, I think the Ronaldo statue looks pretty good pic.twitter.com/JIUwQBuqUY— keewa (@keewa) March 29, 2017 Dashing, isn't he? His hat-trick against Spain was phenomenal and broke or matched a number of records: He joined Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose as only the fourth player to score in four separate World Cup tournaments. He became the first player in history to score in eight consecutive major tournaments (World Cup, European Championships, Copa America). At 33 years and 130 days, he became the oldest hat-trick scorer in World Cup history. At an age when most players are considered either past it or on the decline, Ronaldo has shown no signs of slowing. Consider this: 2006, 2010, 2014 World Cups = 70 shots, 3 goals. 2018 World Cup = 4 shots, 3 goals. Stop him if you can. 11:35AM Ronaldo vs Morocco The meticulously marked out run-up, the ludicrous power pose, the rolled up shorts to expose those bulging thighs, the puff of the cheeks and the fiery stare. Everything about Cristiano Ronaldo's 89th-minute hat-trick goal against Spain last Friday was pure theatre. And wasn't it brilliant? A man who - love him or loathe him - lives for the biggest moments. A man who makes it All. About. Him. And then - THEN - he goes and delivers. If anyone thought Portugal were a one-man team at this World Cup, last Friday's match only reinforced such an opinion. Their 3-3 draw against Spain showcased two things about Portugal's team: Ronaldo's total brilliance and the rest of team's (including your Bernardo Silvas, your Joao Moutinhos etc) bang averageness. That draw means Portugal have emerged from their toughest match of Group B with a point and today they face a Morocco side who were stunned by Iran in their opener. The Moroccans would have come to this World Cup knowing the scale of the task facing them in a group containing Spain and Portugal. The plan: do Iran over and then see if you can get a result against one of the big boys. So much for that. The north African side dominated for much of their opening match, but paid the price for their profligacy in front of goal. Just as it looked like Iran would cling on for an admirable goalless draw, Morocco substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz stuck the ball in his own net in the 95th minute to gift the most unlikely of victories. That has left Morocco in a whole heap of bother. Herve Renard knows his side now cannot afford to lose either of their remaining two games against the two heavyweights of the group. These two sides have met once before at a World Cup and it was Morocco who came out on top in a 3-1 win. That was Portugal's only defeat against African opposition at any World Cup and the bookies have Ronaldo and chums as fairly heavy favourites to triumph today.
1:44PM 44 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 More smart play by those Moroccan men on the right side. First time, the ball is hacked clear. Second time, the ball is chested back to Patricio to bring an end to the attack. "Guerreiro is making Amrabat look world class," says Martin Keown. 1:42PM 42 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Guedes probably should have done better with that chance. He had a lot of goal to aim at, but stuck it far too close to Mohamedi. 1:40PM 40 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A big chance for Portugal to double their lead! It's come from nothing as Morocco switch off slightly and allow Guedes to latch onto a little Ronaldo dink over the top. The Portugal frontman hits the ball on the run and Mohamedi palms away, moving to his left. Benatia is then booked for a foul on Ronaldo soon after. 1:38PM 38 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A lovely overlap sees Hakimi drive high up the pitch for Morocco, but Boutaib cannot keep hold of the ball inside the Portugal penalty area. Back they come again though and Portugal twice have to hoof the ball clear. 1:36PM 36 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A few fouls coming in from both sides in the middle of the park. Still no yellow cards been shown. Portugal vs Morocco shots on goal 1:32PM 32 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 ... Ronaldo marks out his run-up, pulls up his shorts, puffs his cheeks... and then whacks the ball into the Morocco wall. 1:31PM 31 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are again appealing for a penalty as Fonte crashes into Boutaib inside the penalty area, but the referee isn't interested. Portugal then go straight down the other end and win a free-kick 20 yards out from goal. Step up you know who... 1:30PM 30 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ronaldo has barely got a look for the past 15mins or so. His side just cannot retain possession. Morocco fans at Luzhniki respond to Ronaldo’s complaints by singing ‘Messi, Messi’. An old one but a good one— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) June 20, 2018 1:28PM 28 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Amrabat, playing on the right wing today (he played right-back against Iran) is tearing Guerreiro to pieces every time he gets the ball. He just about wriggles clear of the Portugal left-back, ventures into the Portugal penalty area and then tumbles over as Guerreiro fights back to apply some pressure. It looked as though both players were clinging on to their opposite man and Morocco's penalty appeals are waved away. Correct. No need for VAR to intervene. 1:25PM 25 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A bit of an ouchy for Ronaldo prompts the Portugal star to roll around in howls, while clutching his ankle (which was caught by Benatia). A foul is given, but no card shown, and Ronaldo's recovery is swift - almost like it didn't hurt that much in the first place. 1:23PM 23 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ziyech, who has been making quite a name for himself at Ajax this season, is causing plenty of problems and this time tries his luck from range. Nothing too troubling for Patricio, but Ziyech is an attacking player of some talent. 1:22PM 22 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Portugal are really struggling to retain possession. Morocco are pressing so high in the opposition half and Portugal are frequently pushed further and further back. Bar the goal, you have to be impressed with how the Moroccans have played so far. 1:19PM 19 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are continuing to cause all sorts of problems. Amrabat and Dirar link up smartly down the right (where all the problems are coming from), before the Morocco right-back pulls the ball back dangerously into the penalty area, but the shot under pressure flies over the bar. 1:17PM 17 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 BREAKING NEWS: Amrabat has just flung his skull cap towards the bench in disgust, revealing his gloriously shaved bonce. 1:16PM 16 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 This game is very open in these early stages. Neither side is sitting back on the ball, which is making for plenty of action. Morocco are a goal behind but not playing poorly at all. They are pressing with vigour. 1:14PM 14 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 The Moroccans are pushing hard at the moment, forcing Portugal deep inside their own half and winning another corner. It is only half-cleared before being delivered again for Da Costa to head well wide. 1:13PM 13 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A couple of nice Ronaldo stats: 85 - Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored more international goals than any other European player in the history of football (85 goals for Portugal). Historic. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/I3wsEJTGlQ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 2 - Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first Portugal player since José Torres in 1966 to score a goal with his right foot, left foot and head in a single World Cup tournament. Collection. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/liZrUSyXmq— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 1:12PM 11 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Credit to Morocco, they haven't responded too badly to going behind and Amrabat is causing problems against an ageing (actually, very much aged) Portugal defence down the right. The north African side win a corner, which finds Da Costa unmarked in the middle of the box and his header is held on the line by Patricio diving low to his right. 1:10PM 9 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Here comes Ronaldo again. Guerreiro is allowed far, far too much space to bring the ball deep inside Morocco's half. Inside it comes to Ronaldo, who attempts to let fly from the edge of the penalty area but scuffs his shot wide of the post. He's in the mood. 1:07PM 6 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 That was such poor marking and Ronaldo is just too good for that. Morocco's World Cup 2018 future is dangling by a thread. 1:05PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL And you don't even need me to tell you who scored it. The corner is whipped to the edge of the six-yard box where Ronaldo is woefully marked. The Real Madrid man flings himself powerfully at the ball and bullets a header past Mohamedi in goal to put Portugal ahead. Portugal 1 - 0 Morocco (Cristiano Ronaldo, 4 min) 1:04PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 Now it is Portugal's turn to venture upfield through Bernardo Silva on the right. He wins a first corner that ends with Guerreiro seeing a shot deflected over for a second corner... 1:02PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 An early foray forward sees the skull-capped Amrabat deliver a cross from the right. Portugal cannot release the pressure and the ball is worked back into the penalty area from the left where Boutaib meets it and heads over the bar. A lively start from the Moroccans. 1:00PM Kick-off Morocco in red get this match underway. Portugal are in white. Morocco must win to keep their hopes of progressing alive. 12:55PM Game time The teams are out and the anthems are being sung. Almost ready. 12:48PM Bang to the head It had been assumed that Amrabat would not feature for Morocco today after he was forced off during the match with Iran when he bashed his head against the floor and suffered a concussion. However, he has been selected and is wearing a Petr Cech-style skull cap in the warm-up. Unsurprisingly, his inclusion in the starting XI has prompted some raised eyebrows. Nordin Amrabat starts. ����#MOR team doctor - Abderrazak Hifti: "I asked him five questions and he could only answer one, I saw clear symptoms of cerebral concussion.” FIFA concussion protocol. Return to competitive play - 6 days ���� pic.twitter.com/m4xi5Coore— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) June 20, 2018 12:45PM Sun shining on the Luzhniki Credit: reuters Credit: reuters 12:36PM Mismatch? JJ Bull has watched every minute of every match so far at this World Cup, and is thus perfectly placed to tell you who is good and who is rubbish. He has produced a handy guide to all 32 teams, ranking them from worst to best after their opening encounters in Russia. READ IT BY CLICKING HERE. The teams involved in this match are ranked second... and 25th. 12:24PM I see some changes Just the one change from the Portugal side that drew 3-3 with Spain: Joao Mario comes in for Bruno Fernandes on the left wing. Morocco have tinkered a bit more after their shock defeat against Iran, making three changes to the side that started that game. Nabil Dirar and Manuel Da Costa come in, which sees Watford's Nordin Amrabat shifted further forward into a midfield role. Khalid Boutaib replaces Ayoub El Kaabi up top. 12:10PM Here are your teams The teams are in for #PORMAR! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/73Cx1XolJV— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 12:05PM The main man Let's focus a little more on the undoubted star of today's show: CR7. I don't know what you're talking about guys, I think the Ronaldo statue looks pretty good pic.twitter.com/JIUwQBuqUY— keewa (@keewa) March 29, 2017 Dashing, isn't he? His hat-trick against Spain was phenomenal and broke or matched a number of records: He joined Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose as only the fourth player to score in four separate World Cup tournaments. He became the first player in history to score in eight consecutive major tournaments (World Cup, European Championships, Copa America). At 33 years and 130 days, he became the oldest hat-trick scorer in World Cup history. At an age when most players are considered either past it or on the decline, Ronaldo has shown no signs of slowing. Consider this: 2006, 2010, 2014 World Cups = 70 shots, 3 goals. 2018 World Cup = 4 shots, 3 goals. Stop him if you can. 11:35AM Ronaldo vs Morocco The meticulously marked out run-up, the ludicrous power pose, the rolled up shorts to expose those bulging thighs, the puff of the cheeks and the fiery stare. Everything about Cristiano Ronaldo's 89th-minute hat-trick goal against Spain last Friday was pure theatre. And wasn't it brilliant? A man who - love him or loathe him - lives for the biggest moments. A man who makes it All. About. Him. And then - THEN - he goes and delivers. If anyone thought Portugal were a one-man team at this World Cup, last Friday's match only reinforced such an opinion. Their 3-3 draw against Spain showcased two things about Portugal's team: Ronaldo's total brilliance and the rest of team's (including your Bernardo Silvas, your Joao Moutinhos etc) bang averageness. That draw means Portugal have emerged from their toughest match of Group B with a point and today they face a Morocco side who were stunned by Iran in their opener. The Moroccans would have come to this World Cup knowing the scale of the task facing them in a group containing Spain and Portugal. The plan: do Iran over and then see if you can get a result against one of the big boys. So much for that. The north African side dominated for much of their opening match, but paid the price for their profligacy in front of goal. Just as it looked like Iran would cling on for an admirable goalless draw, Morocco substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz stuck the ball in his own net in the 95th minute to gift the most unlikely of victories. That has left Morocco in a whole heap of bother. Herve Renard knows his side now cannot afford to lose either of their remaining two games against the two heavyweights of the group. These two sides have met once before at a World Cup and it was Morocco who came out on top in a 3-1 win. That was Portugal's only defeat against African opposition at any World Cup and the bookies have Ronaldo and chums as fairly heavy favourites to triumph today.
Portugal vs Morocco, World Cup 2018 - live score and latest updates as Cristiano Ronaldo scores again
1:44PM 44 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 More smart play by those Moroccan men on the right side. First time, the ball is hacked clear. Second time, the ball is chested back to Patricio to bring an end to the attack. "Guerreiro is making Amrabat look world class," says Martin Keown. 1:42PM 42 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Guedes probably should have done better with that chance. He had a lot of goal to aim at, but stuck it far too close to Mohamedi. 1:40PM 40 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A big chance for Portugal to double their lead! It's come from nothing as Morocco switch off slightly and allow Guedes to latch onto a little Ronaldo dink over the top. The Portugal frontman hits the ball on the run and Mohamedi palms away, moving to his left. Benatia is then booked for a foul on Ronaldo soon after. 1:38PM 38 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A lovely overlap sees Hakimi drive high up the pitch for Morocco, but Boutaib cannot keep hold of the ball inside the Portugal penalty area. Back they come again though and Portugal twice have to hoof the ball clear. 1:36PM 36 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A few fouls coming in from both sides in the middle of the park. Still no yellow cards been shown. Portugal vs Morocco shots on goal 1:32PM 32 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 ... Ronaldo marks out his run-up, pulls up his shorts, puffs his cheeks... and then whacks the ball into the Morocco wall. 1:31PM 31 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are again appealing for a penalty as Fonte crashes into Boutaib inside the penalty area, but the referee isn't interested. Portugal then go straight down the other end and win a free-kick 20 yards out from goal. Step up you know who... 1:30PM 30 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ronaldo has barely got a look for the past 15mins or so. His side just cannot retain possession. Morocco fans at Luzhniki respond to Ronaldo’s complaints by singing ‘Messi, Messi’. An old one but a good one— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) June 20, 2018 1:28PM 28 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Amrabat, playing on the right wing today (he played right-back against Iran) is tearing Guerreiro to pieces every time he gets the ball. He just about wriggles clear of the Portugal left-back, ventures into the Portugal penalty area and then tumbles over as Guerreiro fights back to apply some pressure. It looked as though both players were clinging on to their opposite man and Morocco's penalty appeals are waved away. Correct. No need for VAR to intervene. 1:25PM 25 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A bit of an ouchy for Ronaldo prompts the Portugal star to roll around in howls, while clutching his ankle (which was caught by Benatia). A foul is given, but no card shown, and Ronaldo's recovery is swift - almost like it didn't hurt that much in the first place. 1:23PM 23 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Ziyech, who has been making quite a name for himself at Ajax this season, is causing plenty of problems and this time tries his luck from range. Nothing too troubling for Patricio, but Ziyech is an attacking player of some talent. 1:22PM 22 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Portugal are really struggling to retain possession. Morocco are pressing so high in the opposition half and Portugal are frequently pushed further and further back. Bar the goal, you have to be impressed with how the Moroccans have played so far. 1:19PM 19 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Morocco are continuing to cause all sorts of problems. Amrabat and Dirar link up smartly down the right (where all the problems are coming from), before the Morocco right-back pulls the ball back dangerously into the penalty area, but the shot under pressure flies over the bar. 1:17PM 17 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 BREAKING NEWS: Amrabat has just flung his skull cap towards the bench in disgust, revealing his gloriously shaved bonce. 1:16PM 16 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 This game is very open in these early stages. Neither side is sitting back on the ball, which is making for plenty of action. Morocco are a goal behind but not playing poorly at all. They are pressing with vigour. 1:14PM 14 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 The Moroccans are pushing hard at the moment, forcing Portugal deep inside their own half and winning another corner. It is only half-cleared before being delivered again for Da Costa to head well wide. 1:13PM 13 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 A couple of nice Ronaldo stats: 85 - Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored more international goals than any other European player in the history of football (85 goals for Portugal). Historic. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/I3wsEJTGlQ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 2 - Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first Portugal player since José Torres in 1966 to score a goal with his right foot, left foot and head in a single World Cup tournament. Collection. #POR#MAR#PORMAR#Ronaldo#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/liZrUSyXmq— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 1:12PM 11 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Credit to Morocco, they haven't responded too badly to going behind and Amrabat is causing problems against an ageing (actually, very much aged) Portugal defence down the right. The north African side win a corner, which finds Da Costa unmarked in the middle of the box and his header is held on the line by Patricio diving low to his right. 1:10PM 9 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Here comes Ronaldo again. Guerreiro is allowed far, far too much space to bring the ball deep inside Morocco's half. Inside it comes to Ronaldo, who attempts to let fly from the edge of the penalty area but scuffs his shot wide of the post. He's in the mood. 1:07PM 6 mins - Portugal 1 Morocco 0 That was such poor marking and Ronaldo is just too good for that. Morocco's World Cup 2018 future is dangling by a thread. 1:05PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL And you don't even need me to tell you who scored it. The corner is whipped to the edge of the six-yard box where Ronaldo is woefully marked. The Real Madrid man flings himself powerfully at the ball and bullets a header past Mohamedi in goal to put Portugal ahead. Portugal 1 - 0 Morocco (Cristiano Ronaldo, 4 min) 1:04PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 Now it is Portugal's turn to venture upfield through Bernardo Silva on the right. He wins a first corner that ends with Guerreiro seeing a shot deflected over for a second corner... 1:02PM 2 mins - Portugal 0 Morocco 0 An early foray forward sees the skull-capped Amrabat deliver a cross from the right. Portugal cannot release the pressure and the ball is worked back into the penalty area from the left where Boutaib meets it and heads over the bar. A lively start from the Moroccans. 1:00PM Kick-off Morocco in red get this match underway. Portugal are in white. Morocco must win to keep their hopes of progressing alive. 12:55PM Game time The teams are out and the anthems are being sung. Almost ready. 12:48PM Bang to the head It had been assumed that Amrabat would not feature for Morocco today after he was forced off during the match with Iran when he bashed his head against the floor and suffered a concussion. However, he has been selected and is wearing a Petr Cech-style skull cap in the warm-up. Unsurprisingly, his inclusion in the starting XI has prompted some raised eyebrows. Nordin Amrabat starts. ����#MOR team doctor - Abderrazak Hifti: "I asked him five questions and he could only answer one, I saw clear symptoms of cerebral concussion.” FIFA concussion protocol. Return to competitive play - 6 days ���� pic.twitter.com/m4xi5Coore— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) June 20, 2018 12:45PM Sun shining on the Luzhniki Credit: reuters Credit: reuters 12:36PM Mismatch? JJ Bull has watched every minute of every match so far at this World Cup, and is thus perfectly placed to tell you who is good and who is rubbish. He has produced a handy guide to all 32 teams, ranking them from worst to best after their opening encounters in Russia. READ IT BY CLICKING HERE. The teams involved in this match are ranked second... and 25th. 12:24PM I see some changes Just the one change from the Portugal side that drew 3-3 with Spain: Joao Mario comes in for Bruno Fernandes on the left wing. Morocco have tinkered a bit more after their shock defeat against Iran, making three changes to the side that started that game. Nabil Dirar and Manuel Da Costa come in, which sees Watford's Nordin Amrabat shifted further forward into a midfield role. Khalid Boutaib replaces Ayoub El Kaabi up top. 12:10PM Here are your teams The teams are in for #PORMAR! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/73Cx1XolJV— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 12:05PM The main man Let's focus a little more on the undoubted star of today's show: CR7. I don't know what you're talking about guys, I think the Ronaldo statue looks pretty good pic.twitter.com/JIUwQBuqUY— keewa (@keewa) March 29, 2017 Dashing, isn't he? His hat-trick against Spain was phenomenal and broke or matched a number of records: He joined Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose as only the fourth player to score in four separate World Cup tournaments. He became the first player in history to score in eight consecutive major tournaments (World Cup, European Championships, Copa America). At 33 years and 130 days, he became the oldest hat-trick scorer in World Cup history. At an age when most players are considered either past it or on the decline, Ronaldo has shown no signs of slowing. Consider this: 2006, 2010, 2014 World Cups = 70 shots, 3 goals. 2018 World Cup = 4 shots, 3 goals. Stop him if you can. 11:35AM Ronaldo vs Morocco The meticulously marked out run-up, the ludicrous power pose, the rolled up shorts to expose those bulging thighs, the puff of the cheeks and the fiery stare. Everything about Cristiano Ronaldo's 89th-minute hat-trick goal against Spain last Friday was pure theatre. And wasn't it brilliant? A man who - love him or loathe him - lives for the biggest moments. A man who makes it All. About. Him. And then - THEN - he goes and delivers. If anyone thought Portugal were a one-man team at this World Cup, last Friday's match only reinforced such an opinion. Their 3-3 draw against Spain showcased two things about Portugal's team: Ronaldo's total brilliance and the rest of team's (including your Bernardo Silvas, your Joao Moutinhos etc) bang averageness. That draw means Portugal have emerged from their toughest match of Group B with a point and today they face a Morocco side who were stunned by Iran in their opener. The Moroccans would have come to this World Cup knowing the scale of the task facing them in a group containing Spain and Portugal. The plan: do Iran over and then see if you can get a result against one of the big boys. So much for that. The north African side dominated for much of their opening match, but paid the price for their profligacy in front of goal. Just as it looked like Iran would cling on for an admirable goalless draw, Morocco substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz stuck the ball in his own net in the 95th minute to gift the most unlikely of victories. That has left Morocco in a whole heap of bother. Herve Renard knows his side now cannot afford to lose either of their remaining two games against the two heavyweights of the group. These two sides have met once before at a World Cup and it was Morocco who came out on top in a 3-1 win. That was Portugal's only defeat against African opposition at any World Cup and the bookies have Ronaldo and chums as fairly heavy favourites to triumph today.
Soccer Football - World Cup - Germany Press Conference - Sochi, Russia - June 20, 2018 Germany's Thomas Muller during the press conference REUTERS/Hannah McKay
World Cup - Germany Press Conference
Soccer Football - World Cup - Germany Press Conference - Sochi, Russia - June 20, 2018 Germany's Thomas Muller during the press conference REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Bert van Marwijk is often reluctant to single players out for praise but he believes Aaron Mooy could reach a bigger Premier League club.
Mooy can play at a higher level, says Socceroos boss Van Marwijk
Bert van Marwijk is often reluctant to single players out for praise but he believes Aaron Mooy could reach a bigger Premier League club.
Steven Gerrard will launch his competitive managerial career at home when his Ranger side – currently in the process of a major overhaul – take on FK Shkupi of Macedonia in the Europa League at Ibrox on July 12. Shkupi, who are based in Skopje, finished fourth in the Macedonian First Division and are competing in Europe for the first time. On the face of it, they should not present a significant obstacle to Gerrard and his players but the former Liverpool and England captain has only to look back a year to be warned that hazards exist even at this embryonic stage of the competition. Last summer Rangers suffered the worst European result in their history when, under Pedro Caixinha, they were beaten by Progres Niederkorn, of Luxembourg despite winning 1-0 in the first leg at Ibrox. Although the allure of watching the first appearance of Gerrard’s Rangers will attract a crowd of close to the Ibrox capacity of 50,817, far fewer travelling supporters will be able to travel to the second leg in Macedonia on July 19. Shkupi’s Cair Stadium can accommodate just 6,000 spectators, of whom only 2,000 can be seated. Gerrard and his squad are in Spain for pre-season training and the manager has declared that his priority is to see an improvement in fitness levels. Meanwhile, Neil Lennon’s Hibernian were also in the draw for the first qualifying round of the Europa League and will begin by meeting NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands at Easter Road on July 12, before heading north for the return on July 19. Runavik have made 11 appearances in European competition and have yet to record an aggregate win although, like Shkupi, the islanders can draw inspiration from Progres Niederkorn, who were in the same situation until they accounted for Rangers.
Rangers handed Europa League first qualifying round tie with FK Shkupi
Steven Gerrard will launch his competitive managerial career at home when his Ranger side – currently in the process of a major overhaul – take on FK Shkupi of Macedonia in the Europa League at Ibrox on July 12. Shkupi, who are based in Skopje, finished fourth in the Macedonian First Division and are competing in Europe for the first time. On the face of it, they should not present a significant obstacle to Gerrard and his players but the former Liverpool and England captain has only to look back a year to be warned that hazards exist even at this embryonic stage of the competition. Last summer Rangers suffered the worst European result in their history when, under Pedro Caixinha, they were beaten by Progres Niederkorn, of Luxembourg despite winning 1-0 in the first leg at Ibrox. Although the allure of watching the first appearance of Gerrard’s Rangers will attract a crowd of close to the Ibrox capacity of 50,817, far fewer travelling supporters will be able to travel to the second leg in Macedonia on July 19. Shkupi’s Cair Stadium can accommodate just 6,000 spectators, of whom only 2,000 can be seated. Gerrard and his squad are in Spain for pre-season training and the manager has declared that his priority is to see an improvement in fitness levels. Meanwhile, Neil Lennon’s Hibernian were also in the draw for the first qualifying round of the Europa League and will begin by meeting NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands at Easter Road on July 12, before heading north for the return on July 19. Runavik have made 11 appearances in European competition and have yet to record an aggregate win although, like Shkupi, the islanders can draw inspiration from Progres Niederkorn, who were in the same situation until they accounted for Rangers.
Ushuru will be playing Mwatate United in the Shield Cup this weekend in the round of 32
Kenyatta: We have to treat each game like a final
Ushuru will be playing Mwatate United in the Shield Cup this weekend in the round of 32
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with team mates after scoring their first goal REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with team mates after scoring their first goal REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Carl Recine
World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Carl Recine
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Carl Recine
World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Carl Recine
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo scores their first goal REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo scores their first goal REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal as Morocco's Munir Mohamedi picks the ball out of the goal REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal as Morocco's Munir Mohamedi picks the ball out of the goal REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
West Ham United are increasingly confident of signing Lazio winger Felipe Anderson for a club-record fee which could be as high as £35 million. Talks have progressed between West Ham and Anderson’s representatives with one source close to the deal saying there is now a “big chance” that it will be completed. It comes after West Ham announced their third signing after appointing Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager with the confirmation that goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has been acquired from relegated Swansea City for £7m on a three-year contract. Having signed the 33 year-old, who is at the World Cup with Poland, West Ham are also continuing to hold talks for another Swansea player, Alfie Mawson. West Ham had been searching for a replacement for Joe Hart following the end of his loan spell from Premier League champions Manchester City and targeted Fabianski, who is Swansea’s current player of the year. "Lukasz is an experienced and established Premier League goalkeeper, with great quality that he has shown at both domestic and international level," said West Ham’s new director of football Mario Husillos. "He fits perfectly the mould of the modern goalkeeper, with excellent agility, presence and distribution, and will bring strong competition to the position." Lukasz Fabianski has signed for West Ham Credit: getty images West Ham also have Adrian who played much of last season after Hart was dropped. In a sign of their ambition - and wanting to get deals done quickly - West Ham have also completed the signing of defender Issa Diop from Toulouse for £22m on a five-year deal. The 21 year-old is a France Under-21 international and was club captain at his hometown club. West Ham have also brought in Ryan Fredericks from newly-promoted Fulham, on a four-year contract, after he became a free agent. Issa Diop has his West Ham medical Credit: getty images However, it will be the signing of Anderson which will excite the West Ham fans. The 25-year-old right-winger scored four goals and provided seven assists in 21 appearances in Serie A last season and also scored three times in the Italian club’s Europa League campaign. Anderson has been capped by Brazil and was signed from the Brazilian club Santos by Lazio for £6.75m in 2015 and has been scouted by a number of leading clubs, including those in the Premier League.
West Ham confident of signing Lazio winger Felipe Anderson for club-record £35m fee
West Ham United are increasingly confident of signing Lazio winger Felipe Anderson for a club-record fee which could be as high as £35 million. Talks have progressed between West Ham and Anderson’s representatives with one source close to the deal saying there is now a “big chance” that it will be completed. It comes after West Ham announced their third signing after appointing Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager with the confirmation that goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has been acquired from relegated Swansea City for £7m on a three-year contract. Having signed the 33 year-old, who is at the World Cup with Poland, West Ham are also continuing to hold talks for another Swansea player, Alfie Mawson. West Ham had been searching for a replacement for Joe Hart following the end of his loan spell from Premier League champions Manchester City and targeted Fabianski, who is Swansea’s current player of the year. "Lukasz is an experienced and established Premier League goalkeeper, with great quality that he has shown at both domestic and international level," said West Ham’s new director of football Mario Husillos. "He fits perfectly the mould of the modern goalkeeper, with excellent agility, presence and distribution, and will bring strong competition to the position." Lukasz Fabianski has signed for West Ham Credit: getty images West Ham also have Adrian who played much of last season after Hart was dropped. In a sign of their ambition - and wanting to get deals done quickly - West Ham have also completed the signing of defender Issa Diop from Toulouse for £22m on a five-year deal. The 21 year-old is a France Under-21 international and was club captain at his hometown club. West Ham have also brought in Ryan Fredericks from newly-promoted Fulham, on a four-year contract, after he became a free agent. Issa Diop has his West Ham medical Credit: getty images However, it will be the signing of Anderson which will excite the West Ham fans. The 25-year-old right-winger scored four goals and provided seven assists in 21 appearances in Serie A last season and also scored three times in the Italian club’s Europa League campaign. Anderson has been capped by Brazil and was signed from the Brazilian club Santos by Lazio for £6.75m in 2015 and has been scouted by a number of leading clubs, including those in the Premier League.
West Ham United are increasingly confident of signing Lazio winger Felipe Anderson for a club-record fee which could be as high as £35 million. Talks have progressed between West Ham and Anderson’s representatives with one source close to the deal saying there is now a “big chance” that it will be completed. It comes after West Ham announced their third signing after appointing Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager with the confirmation that goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has been acquired from relegated Swansea City for £7m on a three-year contract. Having signed the 33 year-old, who is at the World Cup with Poland, West Ham are also continuing to hold talks for another Swansea player, Alfie Mawson. West Ham had been searching for a replacement for Joe Hart following the end of his loan spell from Premier League champions Manchester City and targeted Fabianski, who is Swansea’s current player of the year. "Lukasz is an experienced and established Premier League goalkeeper, with great quality that he has shown at both domestic and international level," said West Ham’s new director of football Mario Husillos. "He fits perfectly the mould of the modern goalkeeper, with excellent agility, presence and distribution, and will bring strong competition to the position." Lukasz Fabianski has signed for West Ham Credit: getty images West Ham also have Adrian who played much of last season after Hart was dropped. In a sign of their ambition - and wanting to get deals done quickly - West Ham have also completed the signing of defender Issa Diop from Toulouse for £22m on a five-year deal. The 21 year-old is a France Under-21 international and was club captain at his hometown club. West Ham have also brought in Ryan Fredericks from newly-promoted Fulham, on a four-year contract, after he became a free agent. Issa Diop has his West Ham medical Credit: getty images However, it will be the signing of Anderson which will excite the West Ham fans. The 25-year-old right-winger scored four goals and provided seven assists in 21 appearances in Serie A last season and also scored three times in the Italian club’s Europa League campaign. Anderson has been capped by Brazil and was signed from the Brazilian club Santos by Lazio for £6.75m in 2015 and has been scouted by a number of leading clubs, including those in the Premier League.
West Ham confident of signing Lazio winger Felipe Anderson for club-record £35m fee
West Ham United are increasingly confident of signing Lazio winger Felipe Anderson for a club-record fee which could be as high as £35 million. Talks have progressed between West Ham and Anderson’s representatives with one source close to the deal saying there is now a “big chance” that it will be completed. It comes after West Ham announced their third signing after appointing Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager with the confirmation that goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has been acquired from relegated Swansea City for £7m on a three-year contract. Having signed the 33 year-old, who is at the World Cup with Poland, West Ham are also continuing to hold talks for another Swansea player, Alfie Mawson. West Ham had been searching for a replacement for Joe Hart following the end of his loan spell from Premier League champions Manchester City and targeted Fabianski, who is Swansea’s current player of the year. "Lukasz is an experienced and established Premier League goalkeeper, with great quality that he has shown at both domestic and international level," said West Ham’s new director of football Mario Husillos. "He fits perfectly the mould of the modern goalkeeper, with excellent agility, presence and distribution, and will bring strong competition to the position." Lukasz Fabianski has signed for West Ham Credit: getty images West Ham also have Adrian who played much of last season after Hart was dropped. In a sign of their ambition - and wanting to get deals done quickly - West Ham have also completed the signing of defender Issa Diop from Toulouse for £22m on a five-year deal. The 21 year-old is a France Under-21 international and was club captain at his hometown club. West Ham have also brought in Ryan Fredericks from newly-promoted Fulham, on a four-year contract, after he became a free agent. Issa Diop has his West Ham medical Credit: getty images However, it will be the signing of Anderson which will excite the West Ham fans. The 25-year-old right-winger scored four goals and provided seven assists in 21 appearances in Serie A last season and also scored three times in the Italian club’s Europa League campaign. Anderson has been capped by Brazil and was signed from the Brazilian club Santos by Lazio for £6.75m in 2015 and has been scouted by a number of leading clubs, including those in the Premier League.
West Ham United are increasingly confident of signing Lazio winger Felipe Anderson for a club-record fee which could be as high as £35 million. Talks have progressed between West Ham and Anderson’s representatives with one source close to the deal saying there is now a “big chance” that it will be completed. It comes after West Ham announced their third signing after appointing Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager with the confirmation that goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has been acquired from relegated Swansea City for £7m on a three-year contract. Having signed the 33 year-old, who is at the World Cup with Poland, West Ham are also continuing to hold talks for another Swansea player, Alfie Mawson. West Ham had been searching for a replacement for Joe Hart following the end of his loan spell from Premier League champions Manchester City and targeted Fabianski, who is Swansea’s current player of the year. "Lukasz is an experienced and established Premier League goalkeeper, with great quality that he has shown at both domestic and international level," said West Ham’s new director of football Mario Husillos. "He fits perfectly the mould of the modern goalkeeper, with excellent agility, presence and distribution, and will bring strong competition to the position." Lukasz Fabianski has signed for West Ham Credit: getty images West Ham also have Adrian who played much of last season after Hart was dropped. In a sign of their ambition - and wanting to get deals done quickly - West Ham have also completed the signing of defender Issa Diop from Toulouse for £22m on a five-year deal. The 21 year-old is a France Under-21 international and was club captain at his hometown club. West Ham have also brought in Ryan Fredericks from newly-promoted Fulham, on a four-year contract, after he became a free agent. Issa Diop has his West Ham medical Credit: getty images However, it will be the signing of Anderson which will excite the West Ham fans. The 25-year-old right-winger scored four goals and provided seven assists in 21 appearances in Serie A last season and also scored three times in the Italian club’s Europa League campaign. Anderson has been capped by Brazil and was signed from the Brazilian club Santos by Lazio for £6.75m in 2015 and has been scouted by a number of leading clubs, including those in the Premier League.
West Ham confident of signing Lazio winger Felipe Anderson for club-record £35m fee
West Ham United are increasingly confident of signing Lazio winger Felipe Anderson for a club-record fee which could be as high as £35 million. Talks have progressed between West Ham and Anderson’s representatives with one source close to the deal saying there is now a “big chance” that it will be completed. It comes after West Ham announced their third signing after appointing Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager with the confirmation that goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has been acquired from relegated Swansea City for £7m on a three-year contract. Having signed the 33 year-old, who is at the World Cup with Poland, West Ham are also continuing to hold talks for another Swansea player, Alfie Mawson. West Ham had been searching for a replacement for Joe Hart following the end of his loan spell from Premier League champions Manchester City and targeted Fabianski, who is Swansea’s current player of the year. "Lukasz is an experienced and established Premier League goalkeeper, with great quality that he has shown at both domestic and international level," said West Ham’s new director of football Mario Husillos. "He fits perfectly the mould of the modern goalkeeper, with excellent agility, presence and distribution, and will bring strong competition to the position." Lukasz Fabianski has signed for West Ham Credit: getty images West Ham also have Adrian who played much of last season after Hart was dropped. In a sign of their ambition - and wanting to get deals done quickly - West Ham have also completed the signing of defender Issa Diop from Toulouse for £22m on a five-year deal. The 21 year-old is a France Under-21 international and was club captain at his hometown club. West Ham have also brought in Ryan Fredericks from newly-promoted Fulham, on a four-year contract, after he became a free agent. Issa Diop has his West Ham medical Credit: getty images However, it will be the signing of Anderson which will excite the West Ham fans. The 25-year-old right-winger scored four goals and provided seven assists in 21 appearances in Serie A last season and also scored three times in the Italian club’s Europa League campaign. Anderson has been capped by Brazil and was signed from the Brazilian club Santos by Lazio for £6.75m in 2015 and has been scouted by a number of leading clubs, including those in the Premier League.
The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
Renault Kwid Spied Hiding A Minor Facelift
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
Renault Kwid Spied Hiding A Minor Facelift
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
Renault Kwid Spied Hiding A Minor Facelift
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
Renault Kwid Spied Hiding A Minor Facelift
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
Renault Kwid Spied Hiding A Minor Facelift
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
Renault Kwid Spied Hiding A Minor Facelift
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
Renault Kwid Spied Hiding A Minor Facelift
No, this is not a new entry-level Dacia.
El árbitro Bjorn Kuipers asiste a una sesión de entrenamiento en Moscú, Rusia - 12 de junio de 2018. REUTERS / Tatyana Makeyeva
El árbitro Bjorn Kuipers asiste a una sesión de entrenamiento en Moscú, Rusia
El árbitro Bjorn Kuipers asiste a una sesión de entrenamiento en Moscú, Rusia - 12 de junio de 2018. REUTERS / Tatyana Makeyeva
The award for the top goalscorer at this year's World Cup is set to be one of the most hotly contested in years with an array of attacking talent descending on Russia this summer. Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez is the current holder of the coveted golden boot but the chances of him retaining the award look slim with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane all coming into the tournament on the back of impressive domestic seasons in front of goal. Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the leading contenders for the award before a ball was kicked, stole a march on his rivals with a sensational hat-trick in Portugal's 3-3 draw with Spain. The Real Madrid striker netted collected his 51st match ball after his 89th-minute free-kick snatched a point for his country after it looked as though Spain had the game wrapped up. Diego Costa finds himself a goal behind Ronaldo in the early running for the award after scoring a brace in the same game. Russia's Denis Cheryshev is level with Costa after scoring to sublime goals in Russia's 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia on the opening day of the tournament.
World Cup 2018 golden boot race - latest updates
The award for the top goalscorer at this year's World Cup is set to be one of the most hotly contested in years with an array of attacking talent descending on Russia this summer. Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez is the current holder of the coveted golden boot but the chances of him retaining the award look slim with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane all coming into the tournament on the back of impressive domestic seasons in front of goal. Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the leading contenders for the award before a ball was kicked, stole a march on his rivals with a sensational hat-trick in Portugal's 3-3 draw with Spain. The Real Madrid striker netted collected his 51st match ball after his 89th-minute free-kick snatched a point for his country after it looked as though Spain had the game wrapped up. Diego Costa finds himself a goal behind Ronaldo in the early running for the award after scoring a brace in the same game. Russia's Denis Cheryshev is level with Costa after scoring to sublime goals in Russia's 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia on the opening day of the tournament.
El arquero de la selección de Túnez, Mouez Hassen, se tira en el suelo después de sufrir una lesión, Volgograd Arena, Volgogrado, Rusia - 18 de junio de 2018 REUTERS / Gleb Garanich
El arquero de la selección de Túnez, Mouez Hassen, se tira en el suelo después de sufrir una lesión, Volgograd Arena, Volgogrado, Rusia
El arquero de la selección de Túnez, Mouez Hassen, se tira en el suelo después de sufrir una lesión, Volgograd Arena, Volgogrado, Rusia - 18 de junio de 2018 REUTERS / Gleb Garanich
People walk past Russian and Spanish flags in the old town of Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
People walk past Russian and Spanish flags in the old town of Damascus
People walk past Russian and Spanish flags in the old town of Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
People watch the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, at a cafe in Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
People watch the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, at a cafe in Damascus
People watch the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, at a cafe in Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
A man holds the Egyptian flag as he watches the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, at a cafe in Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
A man holds the Egyptian flag as he watches the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, at a cafe in Damascus
A man holds the Egyptian flag as he watches the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, at a cafe in Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
People watch the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, in Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
People watch the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, in Damascus
People watch the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, in Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
A woman holds the Russian flag as she watches the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, in Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
A woman holds the Russian flag as she watches the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, in Damascus
A woman holds the Russian flag as she watches the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, in Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
A woman holds the Russian flag as she watches the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, in Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
A woman holds the Russian flag as she watches the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, in Damascus
A woman holds the Russian flag as she watches the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, in Damascus, Syria June 19, 2018. Picture taken June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Poland soccer fans sing their national anthem prior to the start of the group H match between Poland and Senegal at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
The Latest: Moroccan player starts in protective headgear
Poland soccer fans sing their national anthem prior to the start of the group H match between Poland and Senegal at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Morocco's Noureddine Amrabat, left, challenges for the ball Portugal's Raphael Guerreiro, right, during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
The Latest: Moroccan player starts in protective headgear
Morocco's Noureddine Amrabat, left, challenges for the ball Portugal's Raphael Guerreiro, right, during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
The Latest: Moroccan player starts in protective headgear
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Referee Joel Aguilar of Salvador signals for video review during the group F match between Sweden and South Korea at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Nizhny Novgorod stadium in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Monday, June 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
The Latest: Moroccan player starts in protective headgear
Referee Joel Aguilar of Salvador signals for video review during the group F match between Sweden and South Korea at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Nizhny Novgorod stadium in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Monday, June 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Morocco's Noureddine Amrabat is attended to after suffering an injury during the group B match between Morocco and Iran at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
The Latest: Moroccan player starts in protective headgear
Morocco's Noureddine Amrabat is attended to after suffering an injury during the group B match between Morocco and Iran at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Brandon Morrow lands on DL after hurting back while taking his pants off
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo warms up before the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo warms up before the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, center, heads the ball to score the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, center, heads the ball to score the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, with blue captain's armband, heads the ball to score the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, with blue captain's armband, heads the ball to score the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo scores his side's opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Goatee & goals turn this into Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo scores his side's opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
Fortunate Diego Costa goal sees Spain overcome Iran's stubborn resistance
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
Fortunate Diego Costa goal sees Spain overcome Iran's stubborn resistance
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
Fortunate Diego Costa goal sees Spain overcome Iran's stubborn resistance
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
Fortunate Diego Costa goal sees Spain overcome Iran's stubborn resistance
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
Fortunate Diego Costa goal sees Spain overcome Iran's stubborn resistance
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
Fortunate Diego Costa goal sees Spain overcome Iran's stubborn resistance
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
Fortunate Diego Costa goal sees Spain overcome Iran's stubborn resistance
The scoreline will record that Spain beat Iran 1-0, to ease their way towards qualification for the last 16. But rarely can a victory have been as hard won. Never mind the kitchen sink, Spain’s players must have felt as if the entire contents of the local porcelain factory had been hurled in their direction. Rarely can the old coaching maxim of don’t leave anything on the pitch have been so played out as it was by this Iran team. They were simply magnificent in their collective obduracy. Against their elevated opponents, Iran's players gave their all, several of them collapsing to the turf on the final whistle, exhausted by their heroic effort. For Sardar Azmoun this was a home fixture. Iran’s lone striker plays for Rubin Kazan in this stadium. But he can never have known it as noisy as this. The 20,000 Iranian fans in attendance filled the place with an incessant row. Many of them had come from Tehran armed with their own particular instruments of torture: the plastic horn. It was like 2010 all over again, the stadium resounding to the sort of soundtrack we had hoped was consigned to history after the South Africa World Cup. But no, this was a bad case of deja vuvuzela. And nothing seemed to suppress the row. From the first moment an Iranian player touched the ball, a gathering swell of noise burbled up. If there is any team in the world who can be relied upon to suppress the excitement of the opposition supporters it is Spain. And as the slick, sophisticated interchanges of Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Isco began to form intricate patterns across the turf, it seemed silence would soon descend. But these Iranian fans were made of sterner stuff, refusing to be cowed by Spain enjoying 81 per cent of the first half possession. With a huge contingent of women amongst their support, many enjoying the freedom of dispensing with the dress code of home, they provided a field day for the Russian television director who likes his cameras to pick out attractive females. Male or female, however, they did not stop their constant bellow. Spain World Cup tactics article Perhaps aware of how they would be supported come what may, Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz had instructed his team to harry and chase, to snap and snipe. For the first 45 minutes, with six players strung across in a line in front of goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, they presented a solid red wall. When Silva found himself in space in the Iran box and unleashed a goal-bound shot, at least three defenders launched themselves at the ball, deflecting it away. This was the performance of a side determined to give everything for the cause. And Spain, normally so calm and patient in possession, seemed initially rattled by the foaming fury of their opponents. Gerard Pique who can normally land a ball on a sixpence, spooned a pass out into touch. Diego Costa found his match in Beiranvand, who, after the striker launched a typically Costa verbal flurry in his direction, went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer. Diego Costa out Diego Costa’d: it was some sight. And still the horns blew. Even as Iran hit and hoofed, spoiled and sniped, putting together just 49 passes in the first half, still they bellowed. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Iranhad not lost in 22 competitive matches since the last World Cup (they were beaten on penalties in the last Asian Championship). In 18 of those games they kept clean sheets. And here was vivid demonstration of how they did it: they defended as if their life depended on it. But Spain came out from half time with a flurry, determined to quell the resistance. Busquets long range shot was saved by Beiranvand, who then scooped the ball away from Vasquez. Isco blasted over. For a moment it looked as if such profligacy might be costly. From a long Iranian throw the ball fell to Karim Ansarifard, the Olympiakos player, who hammered a shot into the side netting. But then, on 54 minutes, Costa barrelled into the box, twisting, turning, snorting. Rami Rezaien tried to tackle him, but the ball bounced off Costa’s knee beyond Beiranvand’s reach. It was a very Costa-ish goal: belligerent, bullish and suffused with good fortune.. How to predict a World Cup winner Now Iran had to change tactics, hanging on for the point was no longer an option. Queiroz sent on Alireza Jahanbakhsh, of AZ Alkmaar, the only Asian to top the scoring tables in any top European league. And Iran did have the ball in the net when Saaid Ezatolahi bundled home in a goal mouth scramble, But the referee brought the premature celebrations billowing in the stands to a shuddering halt by referring the incident to the video assistant, who informed him there had been an offside in the build up. But Iran were nothing if not determined. Now bellowed on by their wonderful support, they kept trying to get the ball up to Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh, kept trying to break through Spain’s careful possession. But no matter how they toiled and sweated Iran were up against opponents who know better than any side in international football knows how to kill a game. They made their triangles, they took an age on every set piece, Costa ambled off when substituted as if on an afternoon stroll. And crucially, for all their magnificent intensity, Iran had no Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver a point out of nothing at the death. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article 9:11PM Tight at the top This is what it all means for the Group B table. All to play for (unless you are Morocco)... 9:08PM History (sort of) 1-0 - Iran 0-1 Spain means that all three matches today ended in a 1-0 scoreline. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25th 1982 (3) and June 23rd 2010 (3). Narrow.#IRNESP#IRN#ESP#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 0 - There have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far - the last time that this happened was in 1954 (no 0-0's in the 26-game tournament). Goals.#IRNESP#ESP#IRN#WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 20, 2018 9:05PM Full-time stats Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (full time) 8:58PM Analysis Spain did it. They finally broke Iran down, courtesy of a big ricochet and a goal that Costa knew very little about. Iran defended resolutely and could even have shared the points. They, correctly, had a goal disallowed and came close a couple of times late on. As it is, there is all to play for with everyone to play one more game in the group. 8:54PM Full time Iran 0 Spain 1 8:54PM 90+3 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A long lump fails to find an Iranian player. And again. They are trying, without having anything fall for them. Here comes a long throw, though... Mohammadi will fling the ball into the Spain box. He gives it a kiss, then does a somersault and bails out! What on earth was that?!? His second attempt is to a player nearby instead and the move peters out. 8:51PM 90+2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Ebrahimi is shown yellow for a foul on Rodrigo and that means Spain have a free-kick about 25 yards out on the left flank. Isco takes, but it fails to beat the first Iranian defender. Plenty of time was wasted, though. 8:49PM 90 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain are keeping possession smartly now, with Iran run-ragged from all of their defensive work earlier in the match. Four minutes of stoppage time to be played. 8:48PM 88 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Costa's night is up, to be replaced by the Valencia striker Rodrigo. 8:46PM 87 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Back to front, front to back from Spain. That will take up another minute. Almost there. Credit: getty images 8:44PM 85 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain just need to take the sting out of this now. Or score again. One of those two things, you know. 8:42PM 83 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 That is an enormous chance for Iran!!!! Amiri nutmegs Pique on the left and delivers a sublime cross to Taremi at the far post. He rises to meet the ball inside the six-yard box and has a whole heap of goal to aim at, but his header flies over the bar. So close. So very close. 8:41PM 81 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Sexy stuff from Isco to beat a smattering of Iran players before playing and receiving a one-two to drive into the penalty area where he is put on his backside by a crunching tackle. 8:39PM 79 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Amiri is booked for a rash challenge on Carvajal. Then Vazquez heads off to be replaced by Asensio. 8:36PM 77 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Spain have a free-kick here in a great position 20 yards from goal and to the right. Surely this is perfect for the left foot of Silva... nope, Isco has a go with his right peg and the wall jump to keep it out. 8:35PM 75 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 What a ball from the substitute Mohammadi, who crosses wonderfully from the left flank, but it sails about two yards in front of the onrushing Taremi and out for a goal kick. They are certainly giving it some. 8:30PM 71 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A couple of changes. Mohammadi is on in place of the injured Safi, while Koke replaces the ageing Iniesta. 8:30PM 70 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 A touch of magic down the left from Iniesta, whose close control is superb and Spain win a corner. I'm not sure how describe what then happens... The ball is worked low to the near post and then back to Ramos whose shot it blocked on the line. From that moment about half a dozen Iranian players fling themselves on top of the ball and Spain cannot hack it over the line. The ultimate bundle. Brilliant Sunday League football. Heartening stuff. Great to see #IRNESP taking a lead from Chesterfield and Bury.#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/eAkDxMM5Fj— Crap 90s Football (@Crap90sFootball) June 20, 2018 8:26PM 67 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's almost like a normal football match now. You know, when both sides try to score. All sorts of space all over the pitch. 8:24PM 65 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Nothing the Iranian players can really argue about there. Replays showed Ezatolahi was definitely offisde. This game is so much more open now. 8:23PM GOAL DISALLOWED!!!! Ezatolahi was inches offside when the cross was swung in! Oh deary me. Wow. 8:22PM VAR review Still we wait to hear if it offside... 8:22PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Iran have a free-kick about 30 yards out on the right here. Can they conjure something? YES THEY CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cross comes in, there is an almighty scramble and then Ezatolahi bundles into the net. But they are checking VAR for offside... 8:19PM 60 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Iran are looking to build attacking moves now, throwing more bodies forward and it is Taremi who rises highest to meet a cross from the right. He cannot get his header on target though and it trickles past the far post. 8:18PM 58 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 It's immediately apparent that the game is more open since that goal. Iran cannot afford to just sit back as they have been up until now. The result may well be more goals. 8:15PM 56 mins - Iran 0 Spain 1 Well, well, well. What does that mean for Iran's tactics now? Costa scores his 3rd of the tournament. Only a great striker can finish like that. ��— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 20, 2018 8:14PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL Finally Spain find a way through. Iniesta plays in Costa, who attempts to turn inside the Iran penalty area. Rezaeian comes across to make the tackle, but the ball ricochets straight into Costa's shin and then the bottom corner of the net. I'm not sure if Costa knew anything about that. Iran 0 - 1 Spain (Diego Costa, 54 min) 8:13PM 53 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh my word! Everyone thought Iran had just scored!!!! A long throw is headed to Ansarifard who absolutely drills the ball towards the Spain goal from just inside the penalty area. De Gea is stood helpless and watching as the ball flies inches wide of the near post and into the side-netting. 8:11PM 52 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It looks like Spain have sent their wingers a lot wider in this half in an attempt to stretch the game across the pitch. And it looks to be having a bit more success, with greater space to work a move from. This time it comes from the right and the ball is pulled back to Isco, who fires over the bar. 8:09PM 50 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close again for Spain as Pique meets a corner and nods towards goal, but he cannot get enough on it and the man on the line hacks it away. The ball is then worked to Busquets who lets fly from 25 yards. Beiranvand dives to his left and palms it up, before then flapping it away with Vazquez advancing on him. 8:08PM 48 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 As was entirely predictable, both sides have instantly slotted into their same positions as the first half. Not sure if it's some sort of cry for help, but Spain appear to be passing themselves a picture of Vicente del Bosque's face pic.twitter.com/oyesO5RqQV— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 8:06PM 47 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Spanish players were in the referee's ear quite a lot in the tunnel before they came out. I suspect they might have been moaning about the Iranian players' time-wasting and, how to put this neatly, erm... gamesmanship at times. I'll be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with their behaviour in the first half. But maybe that's just me. 8:05PM Kick-off The second half begins. 8:03PM What a man Isco. My man �� pic.twitter.com/uO1UlymeOW— R•Madrid Pics �� (@RM_Pictures) June 20, 2018 8:03PM Half-time stats These are brilliant: Iran vs Spain shots on goal Iran vs Spain Average touch positions (half time) 7:50PM Analysis This is as one-sided a game as you will ever see. It's total attack against defence, but Iran have been superb. If they hold out for 90 minutes it will be a phenomenal defensive performance. Every time a Spanish player has the ball in the final third, there is a man in red snapping at his heels or throwing his body in front of him. And Beiranvand has barely been troubled in goal. Strange. Very strange. But fascinating. 7:48PM Half time Iran 0 Spain 0 - Well, somehow Iran have survived a half and they are treated to a breather. 7:47PM 45+1 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Close for Spain as Silva shoots from the edge of the box, but yet another Iran defender flings himself at the ball and deflects it wide for a corner that comes to nothing. 7:45PM 45 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Three minutes of stoppage time to be played. 7:44PM 44 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran are now just thumping the ball upfield and waiting for the next wave of attack. And again. And again. And again. There is zero attempt to retain possession. 7:42PM 42 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 For all the magicians in the Spanish midfield, they just cannot find a way through. Isco does well to cross low from the left and pick out Iniesta, but the (soon to be) Barcelona man is pounced upon in a flash. I can imagine Spain fans are starting to get very frustrated. 7:40PM 40 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 What's happened here? Iran's keeper Beiranvard has gone down and reckons there was some sort of stamp from Costa, who - you probably don't need me to say - is vociferously protesting his innocence. Replays show it is a lot of fuss over nothing. Costa's foot possibly connected with Beiranvard's toes as the keeper picked up the ball, but there wasn't anything in it. 7:37PM 37 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Now Iran have a corner! Pique was forced to head an incoming cross behind his own goal. Ansarifard will take the corner, but it is headed easily away. 7:35PM 35 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Iran have a throw-in deep inside the Spanish half and the crowd have gone berserk! Safi will attempt the long throw into the box, but the chance is cleared in a flash. 7:33PM 33 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iranians have almost stopped even bothering to try and venture in the Spain half. They are exerting so much energy just keeping the opposition out. Surely this cannot last 90 minutes. They are playing as though this is the 88th minute of a match, not the 33rd. 7:30PM 30 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A gorgeous one-two between Iniesta and Isco finally sees Spain work their way into the Iranian penalty area, but Iniesta's shot is brilliantly blocked on its way to goal. That was a touch of magic from Isco to find his team-mate. The corner falls to Silva, but he cannot keep his shot down to test the keeper. 7:28PM 28 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 These average touch positions tell a story. Only three outfield players in the Spanish half! Average touch positions (25 min) 7:26PM 26 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's total one-way traffic, but it's been quite an engrossing start to this match. A bruising start as well, with tackles flying in all over the place. 7:24PM 24 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 ... Silva will be the man to take with his left foot. He strikes it well, but straight into the midriff of Beiranvard, via a deflection off the wall. 7:24PM 23 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 And Spain earn another free-kick marginally closer to goal. I suspect one of Spain's players with greater finesse will take this one, rather than Ramos... 7:22PM 22 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 "It's an attack v defence training session," says Clive Tyldesley. "But they know what they are doing," adds Glenn Hoddle, of Iran's defence. Spain have earned a free-kick about 25 yards out from goal, though, and Ramos looks as though he fancies it. But his shot fails to beat the wall. 7:20PM 20 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The Iran tactic is quite clear: defend, defend, defend, defend, and then hope to snaffle something on the break. And the defending part is working a treat so far. They look so tightly drilled, but can they keep it up for 90 minutes? 7:19PM 19 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Just a hint of space opens up for Silva, which allows the Manchester City man to have a crack from outside the penalty area, but it cracks into a red-shirted defender and away to safety. Iran seem to have a line of six men in defence when Spain have the ball. 7:18PM 17 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The racket whenever an Iranian player gets on the ball is very impressive. They must have a hell of a lot of fans inside the stadium. And they have something to cheer here as Taremi receives the ball behind the Spanish defence and everyone seems to stop while waiting for an offside flag to be raised. It never comes though, so Taremi hares forward and crosses into the penalty area, but there is no one to get on the end of it. 7:15PM 15 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Spain are struggling slightly at the moment to penetrate this Iranian team, which has been set up tightly with men behind the ball. 7:13PM 13 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 It's pretty niggly out there at the moment. Both sides committing plenty of fouls, before arguing profusely with the referee. All very tiresome. 7:13PM 12 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 A little bit of breaking news from the England camp (and this is not a joke): Gareth Southgate has dislocated his shoulder while out running!!!!!!! 7:10PM 10 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 This could be dangerous. Iran concede a free-kick about 10 yards in from the left and 10 yards from the penalty area. Isco will be the man to whip it in... no he won't, the left-footed Alba crosses instead, the ball flicks off Pique's head and out for a throw on the other side of the pitch. 7:08PM 8 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 The first (of what will presumably be many) talking to of the evening for Ramos after a foul near the middle of the pitch. Not sure there was anything in it as the two men went up for a header together. 7:06PM 6 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Oh what have we here? Here come the Iranians as Azmoun gets in behind the Spain defence and finds Amiri, who darts to the byline and is bundled over to win a free-kick by the corner flag. Can they produce something from this? No. The cross is headed clear by Pique. 7:04PM 4 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Early impressions: Spain are going to see a lot of the ball during this match. Iran are going to sit back and be as physical as possible. Beiranvand is called into action for the first time to punch a loopy cross into the night before Carvajal slashes a long-range shot a long way high and wide. 7:02PM 2 mins - Iran 0 Spain 0 Huge noise from the Iranian contingent inside the stadium. Quite a din in Kazan. 7:00PM Kick off Spain, in white, get this match underway. Iran in red. let's go. 6:53PM Ready for action The players are out and it's national anthem time. 6:45PM Always prepared Bit excessive. Then again, if it rains and he hadn't laminated them, we'd be ripping into him pic.twitter.com/yCB7vFngP0— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) June 20, 2018 6:40PM Here's the scene in Kazan Credit: getty images Credit: reuters 6:31PM My mate Messi Some more pre-reading for you comes in the form of the latest column from our new Telegraph Sport columnist Cesc Fabregas. This one is entitled: Lionel Messi and me - my 18-year friendship with the world's greatest player Here's an extract: People want to put Leo up against Cristiano and of course they both need each other to make themselves better, but we are talking about different teams, different groups, different moments. I think they just respect each other and get on with it. It’s been going on too long for either of them to get annoyed by it. When I went to Arsenal, we lost a little bit of contact, but when I re-signed for Barcelona the friendship grew very quickly again and we had a great connection on the pitch, especially in my first season back. In the first seven games, he had nine goals and I had five, and we were both making assists for each other. It was incredible. Credit: afp 6:20PM Ins and outs So, two changes from the Spain side who drew with Portugal. Nacho is dropped after his wonder-goal and replaced by Dani Carvajal, while Lucas Vazquez comes in for Koke. Iran have tinkered slightly more with Majid Hosseini, Saeid Ezatolahi and Mehdi Taremi all brought into the side. 6:05PM The teams are in TEAM NEWS! We have the Starting XIs for #IRN and #ESP#IRNESPpic.twitter.com/pZQvmZ0B3V— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018 5:54PM Qualifiers Some news from Group A is that it's all been decided just two games in. Uruguay have just beaten Saudi Arabia 1-0, which means both Russia and Uruguay are through to the last-16. Those two sides face each other next Monday to see who tops the group. 5:48PM Open to all While we await the team news, I recommend reading this piece by our man Jim White on the ground in Kazan: How the World Cup is exposing Iranian restrictions on women: 'I was sent to jail for trying to go to a game in Tehran' Here's an extract: For Kiana and Paria, two twenty-something women from Iran, this World Cup has been a liberating experience. For a start, the two of them have been able to do something they never have been able to do in their own country: go to a football match. In fact, earlier this year, when Paria tried to attend a game in her home city she was arrested. The charge was offending public decency. “I love sport, I love football and in Iran women can’t go to watch,” she explains. “One night I try. I go to the game and I went to jail.” It happened in March. A rumour was circulating that the Iranian government had relaxed the strict rules preventing women from showing their enthusiasm for the sport. “We had heard it was OK,” says Paria. “We thought they were allowing us.” So she and her boyfriend headed off to see the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteghlal. But it was not OK, things had not changed. Along with 29 other women who had mistakenly smelled a whiff of liberalisation in the wind, the moment she tried to go through the turnstiles, Paria was arrested and taken to the police station. Her crime? Being a woman in an all-male environment. The World Cup has given Iran fans Paria (right) and Kiana the opportunity to attend their first football match without the risk of arrest 5:30PM Favourites vs Table Toppers No one would have predicted that in a group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, it would be Iran who ended the first round of games top of the table. But that is exactly where Carlos Queiroz's side found themselves when they woke up this morning. In many senses their 1-0 victory over Morocco was somewhat fortunate, gifted to them courtesy of a 95th-minute Aziz Bouhaddouz own-goal. But such a simple reading of that triumph is to do Iran a disservice. Yes, Morocco dominated possession, but Iran's defence held tight throughout, offering the opposition few clear-cut chances. As for Iran's attacking threat at the other end of the pitch... well, yes, there wasn't much to say about that. And, in all honesty, there shouldn't be much tonight either. For all their table-topping exploits, Iran are facing a significant step up here against a Spanish side who impressed many people despite only drawing their opening encounter with Portugal. After the crazy build-up that saw them sack their head coach barely 48 hours before kick-off, the Spaniards showed plenty of class and would have won with relative ease were it not for the individual brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo (and a couple of glaring errors). With Germany losing, Brazil and Argentina drawing, and France looking highly unconvincing in victory over Australia, Spain's draw only seemed to strengthen their hopes of winning this tournament. At their best, no other nation in the world can come close to the beauty of their football and, providing they are over any opening match jitters, this Iranian side are not expected to trouble them much. Indeed, you can get 20/1 on Queiroz's lads emerging victorious tonight. Whether the reality is so straightforward will be known in a few hours. I have predicted a 2-0 win to Spain, although I am firmly entrenched near the bottom of our Team Telegraph World Cup prediction competition so I am not a man to be trusted. For what it's worth: Iran are guaranteed a place in the last-16 if they win tonight.
Egypt head coach Hector Cuper shouts during the group A match between Russia and Egypt at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
After only 2 matches, Egypt eliminated from World Cup
Egypt head coach Hector Cuper shouts during the group A match between Russia and Egypt at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Egypt's Mohamed Salah kisses the ball before scoring his sides first goal from a penalty kick during the group A match between Russia and Egypt at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
After only 2 matches, Egypt eliminated from World Cup
Egypt's Mohamed Salah kisses the ball before scoring his sides first goal from a penalty kick during the group A match between Russia and Egypt at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
A La Roja le vale con no perder ante Marruecos para pasar a la siguiente ronda. Repasamos las posibilidades.
Qué necesita España para avanzar a los octavos de final del Mundial Rusia 2018
A La Roja le vale con no perder ante Marruecos para pasar a la siguiente ronda. Repasamos las posibilidades.
Odubel Herrera homers in his fourth straight game as he belts a mammoth solo homer to right, giving the Phillies a 4-3 lead in the 7th
Herrera's go-ahead HR in the 7th
Odubel Herrera homers in his fourth straight game as he belts a mammoth solo homer to right, giving the Phillies a 4-3 lead in the 7th
Odubel Herrera homers in his fourth straight game as he belts a mammoth solo homer to right, giving the Phillies a 4-3 lead in the 7th
Herrera's go-ahead HR in the 7th
Odubel Herrera homers in his fourth straight game as he belts a mammoth solo homer to right, giving the Phillies a 4-3 lead in the 7th
Odubel Herrera homers in his fourth straight game as he belts a mammoth solo homer to right, giving the Phillies a 4-3 lead in the 7th
Herrera's go-ahead HR in the 7th
Odubel Herrera homers in his fourth straight game as he belts a mammoth solo homer to right, giving the Phillies a 4-3 lead in the 7th
Egypt's Mohamed Salah leaves the pitch without going to his fans, disappointed after losing the group A match between Russia and Egypt at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
After only 2 matches, Egypt eliminated from World Cup
Egypt's Mohamed Salah leaves the pitch without going to his fans, disappointed after losing the group A match between Russia and Egypt at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Russia head coach Stanislav Cherchesov, right, and Egypt head coach Hector Cuper, center, gesture during the group A match between Russia and Egypt at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
After only 2 matches, Egypt eliminated from World Cup
Russia head coach Stanislav Cherchesov, right, and Egypt head coach Hector Cuper, center, gesture during the group A match between Russia and Egypt at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Philadelphia Phillies' Odubel Herrera, left, hits a home run off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Sam Tuivailala during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. At right is catcher Yadier Molina. Philadelphia won 4-3. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Herrera's solo homer lifts Phils to 4-3 win over Cardinals
Philadelphia Phillies' Odubel Herrera, left, hits a home run off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Sam Tuivailala during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. At right is catcher Yadier Molina. Philadelphia won 4-3. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Philadelphia Phillies' Jake Arrieta pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Herrera's solo homer lifts Phils to 4-3 win over Cardinals
Philadelphia Phillies' Jake Arrieta pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Philadelphia Phillies' Jake Arrieta pitches during the second inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Herrera's solo homer lifts Phils to 4-3 win over Cardinals
Philadelphia Phillies' Jake Arrieta pitches during the second inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
St. Louis Cardinals' Michael Wacha pitches during the second inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Herrera's solo homer lifts Phils to 4-3 win over Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals' Michael Wacha pitches during the second inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
St. Louis Cardinals' Michael Wacha pitches during the second inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Herrera's solo homer lifts Phils to 4-3 win over Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals' Michael Wacha pitches during the second inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Philadelphia Phillies' Carlos Santana hits an RBI-sacrifice fly off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. At right is Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Herrera's solo homer lifts Phils to 4-3 win over Cardinals
Philadelphia Phillies' Carlos Santana hits an RBI-sacrifice fly off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. At right is Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Spain's Diego Costa, right, tries to shot as Iran's Morteza Pouraliganji tries to block during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Diego Costa scores again, Spain beats Iran 1-0 at World Cup
Spain's Diego Costa, right, tries to shot as Iran's Morteza Pouraliganji tries to block during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Iran's Saeid Ezatolahi sits on the ground after the end of the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Spain won the match 1-0. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Diego Costa scores again, Spain beats Iran 1-0 at World Cup
Iran's Saeid Ezatolahi sits on the ground after the end of the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Spain won the match 1-0. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Spain's Gerard Pique, front, shields the ball, as Iran's Karim Ansarifard challenges him, during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Diego Costa scores again, Spain beats Iran 1-0 at World Cup
Spain's Gerard Pique, front, shields the ball, as Iran's Karim Ansarifard challenges him, during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Spain's Diego Costa, right, celebrate after scoring his side's opening goal with Spain's Isco during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Diego Costa scores again, Spain beats Iran 1-0 at World Cup
Spain's Diego Costa, right, celebrate after scoring his side's opening goal with Spain's Isco during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Spain's Gerard Pique, center, jumps for a header during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Spain's Gerard Pique, center, jumps for a header during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
France's Antoine Griezmann runs on the field during a training session at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Glebovets, Russia, Monday, June 18, 2018. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
France's Antoine Griezmann runs on the field during a training session at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Glebovets, Russia, Monday, June 18, 2018. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
Iran's Sardar Azmoun lies flat out in the ground after the end of the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Spain won the game 1-0. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Iran's Sardar Azmoun lies flat out in the ground after the end of the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Spain won the game 1-0. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Australia's Tim Cahill, right, and Daniel Arzani talk during Australia's official training for the group C match between France and Australia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Friday, June 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Australia's Tim Cahill, right, and Daniel Arzani talk during Australia's official training for the group C match between France and Australia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Friday, June 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Saudi Arabia's Hussain Almoqahwi , bottom and Uruguay's Diego Godin, top, challenge for the ball during the group A match between Uruguay and Saudi Arabia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Saudi Arabia's Hussain Almoqahwi , bottom and Uruguay's Diego Godin, top, challenge for the ball during the group A match between Uruguay and Saudi Arabia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Brazil's Neymar, right, leaves a training session because of pain in his right ankle, in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Brazil's Neymar, right, leaves a training session because of pain in his right ankle, in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Lionel Messi arrives for a training session of Argentina at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Bronnitsy, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Lionel Messi arrives for a training session of Argentina at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Bronnitsy, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
England head coach Gareth Southgate celebrates his team's 2-1 win at the end of the group G match between Tunisia and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd, Russia, Monday, June 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
England head coach Gareth Southgate celebrates his team's 2-1 win at the end of the group G match between Tunisia and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd, Russia, Monday, June 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Spain's Diego Costa, right, celebrates with Spain's Isco his side's first goal during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Spain's Diego Costa, right, celebrates with Spain's Isco his side's first goal during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Fans shout during the group E match between Costa Rica and Serbia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena in Samara, Russia, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Fans shout during the group E match between Costa Rica and Serbia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena in Samara, Russia, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Iceland's Hordur Magnusson talks to fans after the group D match between Argentina and Iceland at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Iceland's Hordur Magnusson talks to fans after the group D match between Argentina and Iceland at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
England head coach Gareth Southgate attends official training of his team at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Zelenogorsk near St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018 (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
England head coach Gareth Southgate attends official training of his team at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Zelenogorsk near St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018 (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
England head coach Gareth Southgate attends official training of his team at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Zelenogorsk near St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018 (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
England head coach Gareth Southgate attends official training of his team at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Zelenogorsk near St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018 (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Spain's Diego Costa, right, celebrate after scoring his side's opening goal with Spain's Isco during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Spain's Diego Costa, right, celebrate after scoring his side's opening goal with Spain's Isco during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, center, looks as Iran's Ehsan Haji Safi collects the ball after Spain's Diego Costa scored the opening goal during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand, center, looks as Iran's Ehsan Haji Safi collects the ball after Spain's Diego Costa scored the opening goal during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the group A match against Saudi Arabia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the group A match against Saudi Arabia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Croatia's Ivan Rakitic attends a press conference on the eve of the group D match between Croatia and Argentina in the Nizhny Novgorod stadium in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Croatia's Ivan Rakitic attends a press conference on the eve of the group D match between Croatia and Argentina in the Nizhny Novgorod stadium in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, center, reacts during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
The Latest: Mexico, Serbia fined for discrimination by fans
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, center, reacts during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Republic of Ireland vs Denmark - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland - November 14, 2017 Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner celebrates scoring their fifth goal REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Republic of Ireland vs Denmark
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Republic of Ireland vs Denmark - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland - November 14, 2017 Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner celebrates scoring their fifth goal REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Republic of Ireland vs Denmark - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland - November 14, 2017 Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner celebrates scoring their fifth goal REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Republic of Ireland vs Denmark
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Europe - Republic of Ireland vs Denmark - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland - November 14, 2017 Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner celebrates scoring their fifth goal REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Bridges is a safe, solid pick. The Knicks need not to miss in this draft.
Rumor: Knicks will take Villanova’s Mikal Bridges at No. 9
Bridges is a safe, solid pick. The Knicks need not to miss in this draft.
Bridges is a safe, solid pick. The Knicks need not to miss in this draft.
Rumor: Knicks will take Villanova’s Mikal Bridges at No. 9
Bridges is a safe, solid pick. The Knicks need not to miss in this draft.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets quizzed on the drivers he beat to earn race wins.
NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dale Jarrett preview upcoming races
Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets quizzed on the drivers he beat to earn race wins.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets quizzed on the drivers he beat to earn race wins.
NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dale Jarrett preview upcoming races
Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets quizzed on the drivers he beat to earn race wins.
Nordin Amrabat played the entirety of Morocco's match against Spain despite suffering concussion five days before (AFP Photo/Yuri CORTEZ)
Nordin Amrabat played the entirety of Morocco's match against Spain despite suffering concussion five days before
Nordin Amrabat played the entirety of Morocco's match against Spain despite suffering concussion five days before (AFP Photo/Yuri CORTEZ)
Uruguay's Edinson Cavani, right, and Saudi Arabia's Osama Hawsawi challenge for the ball during for the group A match between Uruguay and Saudi Arabia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Uruguay's Edinson Cavani, right, and Saudi Arabia's Osama Hawsawi challenge for the ball during for the group A match between Uruguay and Saudi Arabia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo goes for the ball during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo goes for the ball during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the group A match against Saudi Arabia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the group A match against Saudi Arabia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Iran's Sardar Azmoun is consoled at the end of the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Spain won 1-0. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Iran's Sardar Azmoun is consoled at the end of the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Spain won 1-0. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, center, heads the ball to score the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, center, heads the ball to score the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Iran's Sardar Azmoun lies flat out on the ground after the end of the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Spain won the game 1-0. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Iran's Sardar Azmoun lies flat out on the ground after the end of the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Spain won the game 1-0. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Iran's Mehdi Taremi, left, and Spain's David Silva, right compete for the ball during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Iran's Mehdi Taremi, left, and Spain's David Silva, right compete for the ball during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A Portugal's fan sticks his tongue out as he sits in the stands prior to the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
A Portugal's fan sticks his tongue out as he sits in the stands prior to the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo leaps up for a header during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo leaps up for a header during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Spain's Diego Costa, right, celebrates with his teammate Isco after scoring his side's opening goal during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Spain's Diego Costa, right, celebrates with his teammate Isco after scoring his side's opening goal during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Spain's Sergio Busquets, left, fights for the ball with Iran's Sardar Azmoun during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Spain's Sergio Busquets, left, fights for the ball with Iran's Sardar Azmoun during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Spain's Gerard Pique, center, jumps for a header during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
AP PHOTOS: Ronaldo shines on day of 1-0 World Cup matches
Spain's Gerard Pique, center, jumps for a header during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
With Jason Kipnis at the plate, Jose Ramirez comes home and scores on Bruce Rondon's wild pitch in the 6th inning
Ramirez scores on a wild pitch
With Jason Kipnis at the plate, Jose Ramirez comes home and scores on Bruce Rondon's wild pitch in the 6th inning
With Jason Kipnis at the plate, Jose Ramirez comes home and scores on Bruce Rondon's wild pitch in the 6th inning
Ramirez scores on a wild pitch
With Jason Kipnis at the plate, Jose Ramirez comes home and scores on Bruce Rondon's wild pitch in the 6th inning
With Jason Kipnis at the plate, Jose Ramirez comes home and scores on Bruce Rondon's wild pitch in the 6th inning
Ramirez scores on a wild pitch
With Jason Kipnis at the plate, Jose Ramirez comes home and scores on Bruce Rondon's wild pitch in the 6th inning
Jose Ramirez opens the scoring in the 1st inning with a three-run home run to center field, his 22nd long ball of the season
Ramirez's 3-run home run
Jose Ramirez opens the scoring in the 1st inning with a three-run home run to center field, his 22nd long ball of the season
Jose Ramirez opens the scoring in the 1st inning with a three-run home run to center field, his 22nd long ball of the season
Ramirez's 3-run home run
Jose Ramirez opens the scoring in the 1st inning with a three-run home run to center field, his 22nd long ball of the season
Jose Ramirez opens the scoring in the 1st inning with a three-run home run to center field, his 22nd long ball of the season
Ramirez's 3-run home run
Jose Ramirez opens the scoring in the 1st inning with a three-run home run to center field, his 22nd long ball of the season
Yonder Alonso plates Jose Ramirez with an RBI double down the right-field line, extending the Indians' lead over the White Sox
Alonso's RBI double
Yonder Alonso plates Jose Ramirez with an RBI double down the right-field line, extending the Indians' lead over the White Sox
Yonder Alonso plates Jose Ramirez with an RBI double down the right-field line, extending the Indians' lead over the White Sox
Alonso's RBI double
Yonder Alonso plates Jose Ramirez with an RBI double down the right-field line, extending the Indians' lead over the White Sox
Jason Kipnis blasts a three-run home run to right-center field in the 6th inning for his 6th long ball of the season
Kipnis' 3-run home run
Jason Kipnis blasts a three-run home run to right-center field in the 6th inning for his 6th long ball of the season
Yonder Alonso plates Jose Ramirez with an RBI double down the right-field line, extending the Indians' lead over the White Sox
Alonso's RBI double
Yonder Alonso plates Jose Ramirez with an RBI double down the right-field line, extending the Indians' lead over the White Sox
Jason Kipnis blasts a three-run home run to right-center field in the 6th inning for his 6th long ball of the season
Kipnis' 3-run home run
Jason Kipnis blasts a three-run home run to right-center field in the 6th inning for his 6th long ball of the season
Jason Kipnis blasts a three-run home run to right-center field in the 6th inning for his 6th long ball of the season
Kipnis' 3-run home run
Jason Kipnis blasts a three-run home run to right-center field in the 6th inning for his 6th long ball of the season
Jose Ramirez steals second for his 10th stolen base of the season, getting into scoring position in the bottom of the 5th inning
Ramirez steals second
Jose Ramirez steals second for his 10th stolen base of the season, getting into scoring position in the bottom of the 5th inning
Jose Ramirez steals second for his 10th stolen base of the season, getting into scoring position in the bottom of the 5th inning
Ramirez steals second
Jose Ramirez steals second for his 10th stolen base of the season, getting into scoring position in the bottom of the 5th inning
Rajai Davis rips an RBI single to left field, plating Yan Gomes to extend the Indians' lead to 4-0 in the 4th inning
Davis' RBI single
Rajai Davis rips an RBI single to left field, plating Yan Gomes to extend the Indians' lead to 4-0 in the 4th inning
Rajai Davis rips an RBI single to left field, plating Yan Gomes to extend the Indians' lead to 4-0 in the 4th inning
Davis' RBI single
Rajai Davis rips an RBI single to left field, plating Yan Gomes to extend the Indians' lead to 4-0 in the 4th inning
Rajai Davis rips an RBI single to left field, plating Yan Gomes to extend the Indians' lead to 4-0 in the 4th inning
Davis' RBI single
Rajai Davis rips an RBI single to left field, plating Yan Gomes to extend the Indians' lead to 4-0 in the 4th inning
Jose Ramirez steals second for his 10th stolen base of the season, getting into scoring position in the bottom of the 5th inning
Ramirez steals second
Jose Ramirez steals second for his 10th stolen base of the season, getting into scoring position in the bottom of the 5th inning
Reynaldo Lopez whiffs Rajai Davis with a slider in the 2nd inning as the White Sox trail the Indians
Lopez fans Davis
Reynaldo Lopez whiffs Rajai Davis with a slider in the 2nd inning as the White Sox trail the Indians
Reynaldo Lopez whiffs Rajai Davis with a slider in the 2nd inning as the White Sox trail the Indians
Lopez fans Davis
Reynaldo Lopez whiffs Rajai Davis with a slider in the 2nd inning as the White Sox trail the Indians
Reynaldo Lopez whiffs Rajai Davis with a slider in the 2nd inning as the White Sox trail the Indians
Lopez fans Davis
Reynaldo Lopez whiffs Rajai Davis with a slider in the 2nd inning as the White Sox trail the Indians
Corey Kluber throws seven shutout innings while striking out seven batters in a dominant performance vs. the White Sox
Kluber's 7 shutout innings
Corey Kluber throws seven shutout innings while striking out seven batters in a dominant performance vs. the White Sox
Corey Kluber throws seven shutout innings while striking out seven batters in a dominant performance vs. the White Sox
Kluber's 7 shutout innings
Corey Kluber throws seven shutout innings while striking out seven batters in a dominant performance vs. the White Sox
Tyler Naquin extends the Indians' lead in the 8th inning with an RBI fielder's choice
Naquin's RBI fielder's choice
Tyler Naquin extends the Indians' lead in the 8th inning with an RBI fielder's choice
Edwin Encarnacion lines a two-run double down the left-field line, extending the Indians' lead to 7-0 in the 6th inning
Encarnacion's 2-run double
Edwin Encarnacion lines a two-run double down the left-field line, extending the Indians' lead to 7-0 in the 6th inning
Edwin Encarnacion lines a two-run double down the left-field line, extending the Indians' lead to 7-0 in the 6th inning
Encarnacion's 2-run double
Edwin Encarnacion lines a two-run double down the left-field line, extending the Indians' lead to 7-0 in the 6th inning
Tyler Naquin extends the Indians' lead in the 8th inning with an RBI fielder's choice
Naquin's RBI fielder's choice
Tyler Naquin extends the Indians' lead in the 8th inning with an RBI fielder's choice
Corey Kluber throws seven shutout innings while striking out seven batters in a dominant performance vs. the White Sox
Kluber's 7 shutout innings
Corey Kluber throws seven shutout innings while striking out seven batters in a dominant performance vs. the White Sox
Tyler Naquin extends the Indians' lead in the 8th inning with an RBI fielder's choice
Naquin's RBI fielder's choice
Tyler Naquin extends the Indians' lead in the 8th inning with an RBI fielder's choice
Edwin Encarnacion lines a two-run double down the left-field line, extending the Indians' lead to 7-0 in the 6th inning
Encarnacion's 2-run double
Edwin Encarnacion lines a two-run double down the left-field line, extending the Indians' lead to 7-0 in the 6th inning
Rajai Davis gets into scoring position after he steals second base in the 6th inning, his 14th steal of the season
Davis swipes second base
Rajai Davis gets into scoring position after he steals second base in the 6th inning, his 14th steal of the season
Rajai Davis gets into scoring position after he steals second base in the 6th inning, his 14th steal of the season
Davis swipes second base
Rajai Davis gets into scoring position after he steals second base in the 6th inning, his 14th steal of the season
Rajai Davis gets into scoring position after he steals second base in the 6th inning, his 14th steal of the season
Davis swipes second base
Rajai Davis gets into scoring position after he steals second base in the 6th inning, his 14th steal of the season
Hall of Famer Hubert Green, who famously ignored a death threat to win the U.S. Open, died on Tuesday at the age of 71.
Hubert Green, U.S. Open winner who ignored death threat, dies at 71
Hall of Famer Hubert Green, who famously ignored a death threat to win the U.S. Open, died on Tuesday at the age of 71.
FILE- This Feb. 1, 2018, file photo shows a Burger King Whopper meal combo at a restaurant in the United States. Burger King says its sorry for offering a lifetime supply of Whoppers to Russian women who get pregnant from World Cup players. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Burger King says sorry for Russian World Cup pregnancy ad
FILE- This Feb. 1, 2018, file photo shows a Burger King Whopper meal combo at a restaurant in the United States. Burger King says its sorry for offering a lifetime supply of Whoppers to Russian women who get pregnant from World Cup players. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Franklin Baretto launches a three-run jack into the A's bullpen in center field for his first home run of the season
Baretto's mammoth 3-run shot
Franklin Baretto launches a three-run jack into the A's bullpen in center field for his first home run of the season
Franklin Baretto launches a three-run jack into the A's bullpen in center field for his first home run of the season
Baretto's mammoth 3-run shot
Franklin Baretto launches a three-run jack into the A's bullpen in center field for his first home run of the season
Franklin Baretto launches a three-run jack into the A's bullpen in center field for his first home run of the season
Baretto's mammoth 3-run shot
Franklin Baretto launches a three-run jack into the A's bullpen in center field for his first home run of the season
Miguel Rojas knocks an RBI single to left field, giving the Marlins a 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd inning
Rojas' RBI single
Miguel Rojas knocks an RBI single to left field, giving the Marlins a 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd inning
Miguel Rojas knocks an RBI single to left field, giving the Marlins a 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd inning
Rojas' RBI single
Miguel Rojas knocks an RBI single to left field, giving the Marlins a 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd inning
Miguel Rojas knocks an RBI single to left field, giving the Marlins a 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd inning
Rojas' RBI single
Miguel Rojas knocks an RBI single to left field, giving the Marlins a 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd inning
España gana por la mínima, pero ya acaricia los octavos de final
Crónica Flash: Irán 0-1 España
España gana por la mínima, pero ya acaricia los octavos de final
España gana por la mínima, pero ya acaricia los octavos de final
Crónica Flash: Irán 0-1 España
España gana por la mínima, pero ya acaricia los octavos de final
España gana por la mínima, pero ya acaricia los octavos de final
Crónica Flash: Irán 0-1 España
España gana por la mínima, pero ya acaricia los octavos de final
Leading by a head: Cristiano Ronaldo leads the Golden Boot race with four goals (AFP Photo/YURI CORTEZ)
Leading by a head: Cristiano Ronaldo leads the Golden Boot race with four goals
Leading by a head: Cristiano Ronaldo leads the Golden Boot race with four goals (AFP Photo/YURI CORTEZ)
Brazil's Neymar attends a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Neymar returns to training, Brazil guarantees he's ready
Brazil's Neymar attends a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Brazil's Neymar practices during a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Neymar returns to training, Brazil guarantees he's ready
Brazil's Neymar practices during a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Brazil will face Costa Rica on June 22 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales (8) is congratulated by Justin Smoak, left, after hitting a two-run home run against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Happ pitches 8 1/3 innings as Blue Jays beat Braves 5-4
Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales (8) is congratulated by Justin Smoak, left, after hitting a two-run home run against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin scores against the Atlanta Braves on a sacrifice fly by Toronto Blue Jays' Aledmys Diaz during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Happ pitches 8 1/3 innings as Blue Jays beat Braves 5-4
Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin scores against the Atlanta Braves on a sacrifice fly by Toronto Blue Jays' Aledmys Diaz during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Yangervis Solarte hits an RBI single against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Happ pitches 8 1/3 innings as Blue Jays beat Braves 5-4
Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Yangervis Solarte hits an RBI single against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Randal Grichuk hits an RBI double against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Happ pitches 8 1/3 innings as Blue Jays beat Braves 5-4
Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Randal Grichuk hits an RBI double against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales celebrates his two-run home run against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Happ pitches 8 1/3 innings as Blue Jays beat Braves 5-4
Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales celebrates his two-run home run against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ works against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Happ pitches 8 1/3 innings as Blue Jays beat Braves 5-4
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ works against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Foto del miércoles del DT de Arabia Saudita, Juan Antonio Pizzi, durante el partido ante Uruguay. Jun 20, 2018 REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Foto del miércoles del DT de Arabia Saudita, Juan Antonio Pizzi, durante el partido ante Uruguay
Foto del miércoles del DT de Arabia Saudita, Juan Antonio Pizzi, durante el partido ante Uruguay. Jun 20, 2018 REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
High-profile names were eliminated from both the Birmingham Classic and the Mallorca Open, with Naomi Osaka bowing out injured.
Osaka injured in Birmingham, Kerber crashes out in Mallorca
High-profile names were eliminated from both the Birmingham Classic and the Mallorca Open, with Naomi Osaka bowing out injured.
Eugenio Suarez homers off the top of the wall in left field, as the call is overturned after a review in the bottom of the 6th inning
Suarez homers to left field
Eugenio Suarez homers off the top of the wall in left field, as the call is overturned after a review in the bottom of the 6th inning
Eugenio Suarez homers off the top of the wall in left field, as the call is overturned after a review in the bottom of the 6th inning
Suarez homers to left field
Eugenio Suarez homers off the top of the wall in left field, as the call is overturned after a review in the bottom of the 6th inning
Eugenio Suarez homers off the top of the wall in left field, as the call is overturned after a review in the bottom of the 6th inning
Suarez homers to left field
Eugenio Suarez homers off the top of the wall in left field, as the call is overturned after a review in the bottom of the 6th inning
Scooter Gennett hammers a two-run home run into the seats in right, then Eugenio Suarez lines a solo shot to left to give the Reds the lead
Gennett, Suarez go back-to-back
Scooter Gennett hammers a two-run home run into the seats in right, then Eugenio Suarez lines a solo shot to left to give the Reds the lead
Scooter Gennett hammers a two-run home run into the seats in right, then Eugenio Suarez lines a solo shot to left to give the Reds the lead
Gennett, Suarez go back-to-back
Scooter Gennett hammers a two-run home run into the seats in right, then Eugenio Suarez lines a solo shot to left to give the Reds the lead
Scooter Gennett hammers a two-run home run into the seats in right, then Eugenio Suarez lines a solo shot to left to give the Reds the lead
Gennett, Suarez go back-to-back
Scooter Gennett hammers a two-run home run into the seats in right, then Eugenio Suarez lines a solo shot to left to give the Reds the lead
Adam Duvall launches a solo home run into the right-center-field seats to extend the Reds' lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the 8th inning
Duvall's opposite-field home run
Adam Duvall launches a solo home run into the right-center-field seats to extend the Reds' lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the 8th inning
Adam Duvall launches a solo home run into the right-center-field seats to extend the Reds' lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the 8th inning
Duvall's opposite-field home run
Adam Duvall launches a solo home run into the right-center-field seats to extend the Reds' lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the 8th inning
Adam Duvall launches a solo home run into the right-center-field seats to extend the Reds' lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the 8th inning
Duvall's opposite-field home run
Adam Duvall launches a solo home run into the right-center-field seats to extend the Reds' lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the 8th inning
Niko Goodrum cranks a solo home run into the right-center-field seats, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the top of the 4th inning
Goodrum's solo smash
Niko Goodrum cranks a solo home run into the right-center-field seats, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the top of the 4th inning
Rasiel Iglesias gets Nicholas Castellanos to ground out to third, notching his 11th save of the year and securing the Reds' 5-3 win
Iglesias records his 11th save
Rasiel Iglesias gets Nicholas Castellanos to ground out to third, notching his 11th save of the year and securing the Reds' 5-3 win
Rasiel Iglesias gets Nicholas Castellanos to ground out to third, notching his 11th save of the year and securing the Reds' 5-3 win
Iglesias records his 11th save
Rasiel Iglesias gets Nicholas Castellanos to ground out to third, notching his 11th save of the year and securing the Reds' 5-3 win
Rasiel Iglesias gets Nicholas Castellanos to ground out to third, notching his 11th save of the year and securing the Reds' 5-3 win
Iglesias records his 11th save
Rasiel Iglesias gets Nicholas Castellanos to ground out to third, notching his 11th save of the year and securing the Reds' 5-3 win
Niko Goodrum cranks a solo home run into the right-center-field seats, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the top of the 4th inning
Goodrum's solo smash
Niko Goodrum cranks a solo home run into the right-center-field seats, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the top of the 4th inning
Niko Goodrum cranks a solo home run into the right-center-field seats, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the top of the 4th inning
Goodrum's solo smash
Niko Goodrum cranks a solo home run into the right-center-field seats, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the top of the 4th inning
The 2014 World Cup finalists struggled against resolute Iceland on Saturday, and their next rivals are full of confidence ahead of Thursday's match
Messi the greatest but Croatia will play to beat Argentina, says Dalic
The 2014 World Cup finalists struggled against resolute Iceland on Saturday, and their next rivals are full of confidence ahead of Thursday's match
Jose Iglesias chops one in the infield, then beats the throw to first to score JaCoby Jones and cut the Tigers' deficit to one run
Iglesias plates Jones in the 8th
Jose Iglesias chops one in the infield, then beats the throw to first to score JaCoby Jones and cut the Tigers' deficit to one run
Jose Iglesias chops one in the infield, then beats the throw to first to score JaCoby Jones and cut the Tigers' deficit to one run
Iglesias plates Jones in the 8th
Jose Iglesias chops one in the infield, then beats the throw to first to score JaCoby Jones and cut the Tigers' deficit to one run
Jose Iglesias chops one in the infield, then beats the throw to first to score JaCoby Jones and cut the Tigers' deficit to one run
Iglesias plates Jones in the 8th
Jose Iglesias chops one in the infield, then beats the throw to first to score JaCoby Jones and cut the Tigers' deficit to one run
Scooter Gennett belts a two-run home run into the right-field seats, tying the game at 2 in the bottom of the 6th inning
Gennett's 2-run smash
Scooter Gennett belts a two-run home run into the right-field seats, tying the game at 2 in the bottom of the 6th inning
Jeimer Candelario launches a solo home run into the left-field seats, giving the Tigers an early 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning
Candelario's solo dinger
Jeimer Candelario launches a solo home run into the left-field seats, giving the Tigers an early 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning
Jeimer Candelario launches a solo home run into the left-field seats, giving the Tigers an early 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning
Candelario's solo dinger
Jeimer Candelario launches a solo home run into the left-field seats, giving the Tigers an early 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning
Jeimer Candelario launches a solo home run into the left-field seats, giving the Tigers an early 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning
Candelario's solo dinger
Jeimer Candelario launches a solo home run into the left-field seats, giving the Tigers an early 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning
Scooter Gennett belts a two-run home run into the right-field seats, tying the game at 2 in the bottom of the 6th inning
Gennett's 2-run smash
Scooter Gennett belts a two-run home run into the right-field seats, tying the game at 2 in the bottom of the 6th inning
Scooter Gennett belts a two-run home run into the right-field seats, tying the game at 2 in the bottom of the 6th inning
Gennett's 2-run smash
Scooter Gennett belts a two-run home run into the right-field seats, tying the game at 2 in the bottom of the 6th inning
Eugenio Suarez doubles off the top of the wall in left, but the ruling is overturned and Suarez is credited with a solo homer after a review
Suarez belts homer after review
Eugenio Suarez doubles off the top of the wall in left, but the ruling is overturned and Suarez is credited with a solo homer after a review
Eugenio Suarez doubles off the top of the wall in left, but the ruling is overturned and Suarez is credited with a solo homer after a review
Suarez belts homer after review
Eugenio Suarez doubles off the top of the wall in left, but the ruling is overturned and Suarez is credited with a solo homer after a review

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