World Cup: Iran 0 Spain 1 - 5 things you need to know

Diego Costa (left) of Spain in action against Saeid Ezatolahi of Iran during the Fifa World Cup 2018 group B preliminary round soccer match between Iran and Spain in Kazan, Russia, on June 20, 2018.
Diego Costa (left) of Spain in action against Saeid Ezatolahi of Iran during the Fifa World Cup 2018 group B preliminary round soccer match between Iran and Spain in Kazan, Russia, on June 20, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Every dog has its day but for the underdogs of this World Cup Wednesday (June 20) was a day of ill fortune indeed. Iran became the third underdog in that many matches to offer up a doughty performance and suffer defeat by a 1-0 scoreline, as 2010 champions Spain prevailed courtesy of a fortuitous Diego Costa goal in the 54th minute which deflected off the striker's thigh and into the back of the net. Iran manager Carlos Queiroz cajoled a magnificently composed defensive performance from his side even as Spain dominated the ball with 78 per cent of possession and the Iranians will be gutted to come away empty-handed. Spain join Iberian neighbours Portugal, who beat Morocco in an earlier match, at the top of Group B with four points.

Here's the lowdown for the game:

1. THE GOALS

Iran 0 Spain 1 (Costa 54th)

2. THE WOW MOMENT

Vahid Amiri's delicious nutmeg of Gerard Pique in the 81st minute belied the gulf in class between their respective clubs Persepolis FC and Barcelona, and this is part of what makes the World Cup special. Amiri's subsequent delivery deserved a a goal at the end of it but team-mate Taremi could not keep his leaping header down.

3. THE TALKING POINT

Iran thought they had gotten the equaliser through Saeid Ezatolahi in the 61st minuite following a goal-mouth melee but referee Andres Cunha invoked the VAR which showed that a host of Iranian players had strayed offside. It was not the popular decision but was certainly the correct one.

4. THE STAR

Spain had a starting line-up filled with bona fide stars but none of them shone particularly brightly in this game as Iran's defensive gameplan was executed to perfection. Real Madrid's Isco was one of the few who provided any real penetration for his side, while goalscorer Costa's physical prowess put him in the position to take advantage of some good luck.

5. WHAT THE RESULT MEANS

Spain and Portugal now lead Group B with four points each and a positive goal difference of +1. Iran must win their last group match against Portugal to progress while Morocco have been eliminated.