Spain eked out a difficult 1-0 win against Iran in what was a challenging Group B contest of the FIFA World Cup 2018. Diego Costa scored the lone goal of the match in the 54th minute at the Kazan Arena to now have three goals from two games in Russia 2018. Iran defended brilliantly to keep it 0-0 till half-time and scored a goal which was disallowed following VAR, which showed it to be off-side. 2010 edition champions Spain currently top Group B with four points while Portugal are right with them in second place with the same number of points. This group is still wide open with the third round deciding which two teams will go through after Morocco were eliminated having lost both their clashes. Follow highlights of Iran vs Spain, FIFA World Cup 2018 Group B match here (FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 FULL COVERAGE)
01:40 hrs IST: Hope you enjoyed our coverage. Thanks for joining in.
01:35 hrs IST: Diego Costa have been named Man of the Match
01:30 hrs IST: Iran have now lost all seven matches they have played in the World Cup against European opposition
01:25 hrs IST: And time is up! Spain win 1-0. Iran defended really well but that goal from Diego Costa in the 54th minute was enough for Spain
01:20 hrs IST: Four minutes of added time and a yellow card for an Iran player
01:14 hrs IST: Diego Costa now has 10 goals for Spain. Only Silva, Iniesta and Ramos have more in the current Spain squad
01:10 hrs IST: A yellow card for Iran’s Vahid Amiri for a rough tackle. We are into the last 10 minutes of the match. Looks like Spain will continue to hold on to this lead
01:05 hrs IST: Koke has come in to replace Iniesta in the 71st minute
01:02 hrs IST: So goal not given to Iran. The flag had gone up for off-side
01:01 hrs IST: Iran have scored! But wait the referee is checking! Will VAR come into play?
01:00 hrs IST: Diego Costa now has three goals from two matches in this World Cup
00:57 hrs IST: A scrappy goal but Spain are in lead which is most important
00:54 hrs IST: Diego Costa scores in the 54th minute!
00:53 hrs IST: Now Iran had a real chance there
00:50 hrs IST: Spain look in a hurry to score against Iran. If this game ends in a draw, the situation will not look good for the former champions
00:45 hrs IST: What a fantastic save by Iran goalie Ali Beiranvand
00:40 hrs IST: Spain need to win by two goals to move ahead of Portugal in the standings
00:37 hrs IST: Spain had 73 percent ball possession in the first half and had 10 attempts at the goal
00:34 hrs IST: The second half begins
00:32 hrs IST: Spain laid siege to Iran’s goal for much of the first 45 minutes but resolute defending meant the match was deadlocked 0-0 at the halftime break. Spain’s David Silva hooked the ball over the bar after half an hour with the best of the very few chances while Iran failed to find the target on any of their infrequent forays across the halfway line
00:25 hrs IST: Take a breather. We will see you in the second half
00:24 hrs IST: Most of the first half was played in the Iranian half but they did well do defend. 0-0 at half-time
00:21 hrs IST: That was some brilliant defending by Iran against a team which won the 2010 World Cup! That tells you a lot
00:19 hrs IST: And it is halftime!
00:17 hrs IST: Three minutes of extra time
00:15 hrs IST: Spain’s Diego Costa has got into a fight with Iranian players
00:13 hrs IST: Isco is showing pure class in the midfield. We are close to halftime now
00:10 hrs IST: Chance for Iran but well defended by Sergio Ramos. Corner for Iran now…
00:05 hrs IST: We are 30 minutes into the match but credit to Iran for holding out Spain so far. No goals yet
00:03 hrs IST: A lot of vuvuzelas can be heard. Reminiscent of 2010 South Africa
00:00 hrs IST: Another free-kick for Spain and it goes waste and David Silva hits it straight to ‘keeper
23:57 hrs IST: Free-kick for Spain, Ramos takes it, bounces off the wall and straight into the hands of the ‘keeper
23:54 hrs IST: Though Spain are the favourites, there is a lot more support for Iran in Kazan!
23:50 hrs IST: If Iran win this, they will surely be through to the last 16
23:45 hrs IST: Iran can barely touch the ball, such has been the domination of Spain
23:40 hrs IST: Spain are easily dominating possession but score still stands at 0-0
23:37 hrs IST: Good kick but well defended by the 2010 champions
23:35 hrs IST: Iran get a corner-kick. Will they make it count?
23:30 hrs IST: Play time! This is the first ever international between the two sides! They have never met before
23:28 hrs IST: So the teams have stepped out on to the field and are shaking hands. National anthems done. We are close to the start of the gam
23:25 hrs IST: It is a straight fight between Portugal, Spain and Iran from Group B as Morocco have already been knocked out with two losses against Portugal and Iran
23:20 hrs IST: In earlier games today, Portugal defeated Morocco to top Group B while Luis Suarez’s goal sent Uruguay and Russia into the last 16 while Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been knocked out from Group A
23:14 hrs IST: Iran coach Carlos Queiroz dropped captain Masoud Shojaei to the substitutes in a mild surprise with the suspended Saeid Ezatolahi recalled and Ehsan Hajsafi to wear the captain’s arm-band. Defender Majid Hosseini replaces the injured centre back Rouzbeh Cheshmi as Iran seek a second successive win after their 1-0 victory over Morocco
23:10 hrs IST: Spain defender Dani Carvajal has been recalled for the game replacing Nacho from the starting side that drew with Portugal, after recovering from a hamstring injury. Fernando Hierro has also included forward Lucas Vazquez with Koke making way at the Kazan Arena
23:06 hrs IST: While Spain drew 3-3 against Portugal in the Iberian derby, Iran defeated Morocco to be currently placed second in Group B
23:00 hrs IST: Hello and welcome to the final match of FIFA World Cup 2018 tonight. It will be Iran taking on 2010 champions Spain
However, it will be yet another big test for Iran. They will have to score past the Spanish defence of Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Nacho Fernandez. David de Gea, who had a poor outing against Portugal, will look to put on a good show.
Depending on the number of forwards coach Fernando Hierro chooses, Spain’s midfield may rotate in a three or four-man central players. Koke, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Isco might feature, while in attack, David Silva and Diego Costa, who scored twice in the opener, are certain to start. Hierro may use the pace and mobility of Iago Aspas and Rodrigo Moreno as Iran will look to make a heavy defending duty.