Iran has produced a World Cup miracle just days after being smashed 6-2 by England.
The Asian powerhouse scored two late goals against a 10-man Wales to keep their World Cup alive.
It was a game filled with drama on and off the field.
Iran fans whistled and jeered their own national anthem in incredible scenes at the Qatar World Cup.
On the field the Iran players had a message of their own after being demolished 6-2 in the opening game.
Wales keeper Wayne Hennessey was sent off in the final minutes after VAR got involved to overturn the upgrade the yellow card he’d received for a dangerous challenge outside the box on Mehdi Taremi to a red.
It looked headed for a draw before Roozbeh Cheshmi scored a cracking goal deep in nine minutes of injury time.
Ramin Rezaeian then doubled the lead in the final seconds.
The win keeps Iran’s World Cup alive with a final game against the US.
For Wales they now need to beat rivals England to have any chance of advancing to the second round.
Against a Wales side coming off a draw with the US, Iran showed the energy and passion lacking in the first game loss.
Knowing another defeat would end their World Cup after only six days, Iran looked the better of the two teams.
Before Iran’s first game against England, the players remained silent during the anthem.
It was seen as a show of support for protesters back in Iran facing a brutal crackdown by the government.
Against Wales the players did sing. But only just. It was almost through gritted teeth.
You can only imagine the pressure the players have been under since that game one protest.
But the Iran fans – who outnumbered Wales fans – whistled and jeered their own anthem.
It was a powerful moment in a World Cup which has seen a lot of talk about protests against a range of issues and little action.
The noise coming from the Iran supporters almost drowned out the speakers as the whistling and jeering reached incredible levels.
As cameras panned around the stadium, two fans were spotted breaking down in the middle of the anthem being played.
Iran forward Mehdi Taremi denied on Thursday that his team had come “under pressure” from their government to sing the anthem at the World Cup.
“I don’t like to talk about political issues, but we are not under any pressure,” Taremi said on the eve of the Wales game.
Iran has been shaken by two months of nationwide protests since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody on September 16.
Amini, an Iranian of Kurdish origin, died three days after her arrest in Tehran over an alleged breach of the dress code for women, which includes the mandatory hijab headscarf.
The crackdown since Amini’s death has left at least 400 people dead, according to Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.
Iran striker Sardar Azmoun’s tattoo saying “love me for who I am” could be seen prominently during the anthem.
On the field Iran played with an energy and passion not seen in the 6-2 loss to England.
It was an energy that Wales – who dominated possession without creating many chances – was unable to match.
At every opportunity in the first half Iran counterattacked and with speed.
They thought they had the opening goal before VAR correctly overruled it for offside.
If Wales thought Iran’s energy was intense in the first half, they had no idea what was to come.
Iran dominated the early stages of the second half, and hit the post twice within seconds.
First, Azmoun hit the post when through on goal. And then Ali Gholizadeh with a shot seconds later.
Azmoun was one of Iran’s best and when taken off after 67 minutes received huge applause from the Iran fans.
In the 73rd minute Saeid Ezatolahi went close again but his shot was just saved by Hennessey.
Ben Davies had a powerful shot put over for a corner in the final 10 minutes in Wales’ best moment.
Moments later Hennessey was sent off after VAR got involved.
But Iran was not going to be denied, scoring the winner they richly deserved.
After the disaster against England, Iran was intent on going down swinging in Qatar.
On and off the field, they did just that.