Iran 0-1 Spain

Andres Iniesta kisses ball

Spain and Portugal are on four points, while Iran is on three, making the last group stage match between Portugal and Iran a massive one with huge implications.

"Now we are a little bit sad but we will continue to work hard for the next game to make our fans happy".

The threat Iran posed should not be disregarded: Carlos Queiroz's side are, as they showed when coming out of their shell, a fearsome proposition in all departments and hardly a minnow anyone should expect to brush aside.

"Scrappy yes and very very exciting in the last 15 minutes", Schmeichel said of the game. It was a celebration of what brought Iran to the verge of global relevance under Queiroz, whose team faces obstacles from its own federation to worldwide sanctions against the country.

Carjaval is now hoping future opponents at Russian Federation 2018, starting with Morocco in their Group B closer, are more ambitious in their play. "What he has done with Iran is incredible".

In the end, Iran were just unable to get the goal that would have earned them one of the surprises of the tournament, and will now need to get a result against Portugal on Monday if they are to reach the Round of 16.

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He said: "I think there are 32 great teams here at this World Cup and no-one is giving anything away, so anyone who thinks it is going to be very easy to score and win by a landslide is wrong".

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

Indeed, despite having the worse season in Madrid this past term, Asension looked to be what was needed more so on the night, a more direct runner of the ball with a better eye for goal.

Schmeichel was quick to laud Iran's tactical discipline in a 6-3-1 formation, which saw even star forward man Sardar Azmoun even dropping back to midfield to support, but equally commended striker Costa, who fortuitously found the net when the ball ricocheted off him and into the net.

Still, lucky or not, the goal was well deserved for a Spain side that had seen over 70 percent of the ball. Which is when a player does a somersault on a throw-in.

Moments later, the final whistle blew and the Iranian players laid on the grass after their exhaustive effort.

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