Iran keeps World Cup dream alive after losing heartbreaker to Spain

Spain's Gerard Pique second from right scores during the Euro 2016 match between Spain and the Czech Republic

Diego Costa's lone goal in the second half gave Spain a 1-0 win over Iran in their World Cup Group B match here on Wednesday.

Iniesta was keen to brush aside any reopening of the debate, insisting it continues to be business as usual under Hierro ahead of Wednesday's clash with Iran.

With three points from their opening win against Morocco, Iran can still qualify for the knockout round but will need to beat Portugal on Monday in Saransk.

Spain headed to Russian Federation in similarly impressive form, romping their qualifying group, but while a draw with Switzerland and a limp 1-0 victory over Tunisia did little to dampen spirits.

SPAIN:La Furia Roja is also in great form as expected, Spain has won most of their recent games prior to the World Cup.

Iran will next face a tough Portugal team, but proved its mettle during the bout with Spain despite being heavily overmatched on paper.

Federation Internationale de Football Association statistics showed that Spain made 17 attempts at the goal throughout the match, while Iran made only five. Silva had a shot blocked from close range and another one deflected behind towards the end of the first half, but that was about as good as it got for the 2010 World Cup winners in the first 45 minutes.

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As if coming up against the likes of Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos and Diego Costa was not already a daunting enough proposition, it is a Spanish outfit that will be going all out for victory after they began their campaign with a 3-3 draw against Portugal.

"We deserve a better result", said Iran coach Carlos Queiroz at the post-match press conference, noting that his team played with a fighting spirit.

Spain coach Fernando Hierro welcomed Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal back into the starting line-up following his recovery from a hamstring injury suffered in the Champions League final win over Liverpool.

The first half lacked clear-cut chances, with Karim Ansarifard firing a speculative effort wide in the 14th minute before David Silva struck a fierce drive five minutes later, but it hammered into the body of Majid Hosseini. I believe we have already shown this: "in hard situation, we always unite and are able to show our best", he said, adding that the team will play better to show how much they miss their brother Cheshmi.

Failing anything else, Hierro might have done well this week to dig out the tapes of Iran's match against Argentina in the group stage of the last World Cup.

"We are well aware of Spain's reputation, so we'll have to play our best game ever".

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