Spain go top of Group B after 1-0 victory over Iran.
Spain have moved top of their group following a victory over Iran, with the latter set up as most expected them, with all 11 men behind the ball as they tried to frustrate Spain.
The game plan worked until an extremely lucky Diego Costa goal put Spain ahead. Iniesta slipped the ball into Costa's feet and, as he turned on the edge of the area, the ball ricocheted from the defender, onto Costa and into the net.
Iran had their chances, though, and would have been level had it not been for the assistant's flag — the ball came in from a free kick, it was headed on, then scrambled in by Ezatolahi. However, replays showed Ezatolahi was offside when the ball was flicked on and the goal was correctly ruled out.
Spain now move into their game against Morocco knowing they will qualify if they avoid defeat.
Iran can still qualify with a positive result against Portugal.
Five takeaways from Spain vs Iran
Iran showed how difficult they are to beat, holding Spain off for 54 minutes and only a lucky deflected goal cost Iran the game. They defended with 11 men behind the ball and defended well to frustrate Spain. Iran may have lost but they will take massive positives from the game and will look to replicate this performance against Portugal, where a positive result may mean that they qualify for the next round.
How to stop Spain
Spain faced the team they expected to and the Iranian tactics would not have surprised them, but they struggled to break down the 11 men that Iran put behind the ball. Other teams will have seen this and, although Spain found the breakthrough, it was an extremely lucky goal. Other teams will know that holding Spain is possible.
Some fans and pundits saw some of the Iranian tactics as clever or necessary, but others saw them as outright cheating. The Iranians were physical and you could say that some of the players were going down too easily. Iran clearly used these tactics to try and break the Spanish flow and slow the game — for long periods it worked. Whether it should have been allowed is a different conversation entirely!
The somersault throw in
When the ball went out for an Iran throw-in near the Spanish area in the 93rd minute, everyone was expecting the long throw-in that Iran had been using the entire game. However, both of the main Iranian long-throw specialists had been removed, so up stepped Mohammadi. He kissed the ball and looked up to the sky before running up and attempting a somersault throw in... which he then backed out of. The end result was a meek throw 10 yards back up the line to his teammate — safe to say he won't be trying that again!
The atmosphere inside the Kazan Arena was electric throughout the game. A vast majority of the crowd were Iranian fans and they were enjoying themselves! Iran throw-ins were celebrated like goals and they carried on cheering even after the Spanish goal. All in all, it was probably the best atmosphere we've seen so far at the World Cup.