Spain made to work for victory over fearless Iran

Spain's Diego Costa scores in the 52nd minute of the match with Iran at the Kazan Arena in Kazan Russia

Spain's Diego Costa scores in the 52nd minute of the match with Iran at the Kazan Arena in Kazan Russia

62' - GOAL! Iran 1-1 Spain (Ezatolahi) The free-kick is curled in nastily, a scramble, a drive into the net, and we're checking VAR to see if the decision to disallow it for offside is correct.

And for much of this game, the Iranians looked like they could fend off their favored adversaries even as Spain dominated possession and camped out in their attacking third of the field.

Iran manager Carlos Queiroz was full of praise for his side after their narrow defeat by Spain in FIFA World Cup Group B on Wednesday evening.

Latching onto an incisive pass from Andres Iniesta, Diego Costa did well to turn his man but the covering Ramin Rezaeian was poised to snuff out the threat.

Diego Costa's fortunate goal settled a tight contest in Kazan, moving Spain level on points with Portugal at the top of Group B.

Saeid Ezatolahi will attempt to put aside the disappointment of seeing his potential equalizer against Spain ruled out for offside when Iran go for a win against Portugal that would fire them into the knockout phase of the World Cup for a first time.

Iran fans all but tore their hair out late on when Vahid Amiri brilliantly nutmegged a defender to send a cross into Mehdi Taremi, but the forward sent a very gettable header from six yards out sailing over.

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The squad, which has faced an uphill battle at the soccer tournament partly thanks to worldwide sanctions, had a goal taken away in the second half of Wednesday's loss, missing out on the potential equalizer during the tense match. Portugal and Iran are also yet to play each other.

Spain needs to recover its confidence after having lost the ball and dominance in a game whose result was down to just one goal - as is the case in so many World Cup matches.

"God helped me to play well but unfortunately we couldn't score, the goal didn't count".

"We left the pitch 1-0 down, but we won respect".

'We showed that we were ready to suffer and ready to compete, ' Queiroz said.

Frustrated throughout by a dogged defensive display from Iran, Costa courted first-half controversy when he walked towards the Persepolis shot-stopper as he prepared to kick out the ball.

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