Spain Overcomes Iran's Stubborn Defense in the World Cup

Spain fans

Spain had to contend with more than just a well-drilled and fierce team of opponents - they were also playing against the crowd.

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. Iniesta shrugged off a challenge in midfield and rolled the ball in Costa's path in the 54th minute.

78th minute, THROUGH PASS: Collects the ball with plenty of space down the left and finds Costa with a delicious ball around the corner of the Iran defence.

After being desperately unlucky in Diego Costa's opener, which he knew absolutely nothing about, Iran looked to have drawn level through Saeid Ezatolahi.

David Silva sent a free kick straight into the arms of keeper Ali Beiranvand in the 25th minute for Spain's first shot on goal.

Iran had chances of their own as the Asian side thought they had equalized just six minutes after Costa's goal.

This looks like it could be Isco's World Cup, with the Real Madrid midfielder proving to be the most effective player on the Spain team.

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Portugal's mental fortitude has yet to be tested so far, and they will be uncomfortable facing an Iranian side that will hand them possession.

Iran started the second round of fixtures top of Group B having beaten Morocco in their opening game, while Spain needed a win after a thrilling 3-3 tie with Portugal. "But I am happy because it was a tight game, they were sat very deep".

Against Spain, an aerial ball usually represents the best chance to score, and this was nearly repeated by Iran. Iran was also risky on the break, using the speed of its attacking players to threaten the Spanish back four but without creating many real chances.

Then, trailing in the second half, Iran almost equalized when Saeid Ezatolahi had a goal ruled out on video review.

Costa's initial strike was blocked but the ball bounced back off him to give La Roja a hard fought win.

While Iran might have courted some praise for their stifling tactics in the first half, this was more a test of Hierro's tactical nous considering the 3-3 draw with Portugal was something of a wild anomaly.

'I don't know what match you've seen, ' Costa replied.

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