Iran has produced a World Cup miracle just days after being beaten 6-2 by England.
The Asian powerhouse scored two late goals against a 10-man Wales to keep their World Cup alive.
It was a game full of drama on and off the field.
Iran fans whistled and booed their own national anthem in incredible scenes during the World Cup in Qatar.
On the field, the Iranian players had a message of their own after being beaten 6-2 in the opening game.
Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was sent off in the dying minutes after VAR got involved in overturning the yellow card he had received for a dangerous challenge outside the box on Mehdi Taremi.
It looked set to be a draw before Roozbeh Cheshmi scored a smashing goal deep into nine minutes of stoppage time.
Ramin Rezaeian then doubled the lead in the closing seconds.
The victory keeps Iran’s World Cup alive with a final game against the US.
Wales must now beat rivals England to have any chance of progressing to the second round.
Against a Welsh side that drew with the US, Iran showed the energy and passion that was missing in the first game defeat.
Knowing that another defeat would end their World Cup after just six days, Iran seemed to be the better of the two teams.
Before Iran’s first game against England, the players remained silent during the national anthem.
It was seen as a show of support for protesters in Iran who faced brutal crackdowns by the government.
The players sang against Wales. But only. It was almost through clenched teeth.
You can only imagine the pressure the players have been under since that first game protest.
But Iran’s fans – who outnumbered Wales fans – whistled and booed their own national anthem.
It was a powerful moment in a World Cup that saw much talk of protests on a range of issues and little action.
The sound of the Iranian supporters almost drowned out the loudspeakers as the whistling and jeering reached incredible levels.
As cameras panned around the stadium, two fans were spotted in the middle of the national anthem being played.
Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi denied on Thursday that his team had come “under pressure” from their government to sing the national anthem at the World Cup.
“I don’t like to talk about political issues, but we’re not under any pressure,” Taremi said against Wales ahead of the game.
Iran has been rocked by two months of nationwide protests since the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.
Amini, an Iranian of Kurdish descent, died three days after her arrest in Tehran for allegedly violating the dress code for women, including the mandatory hijab headscarf.
At least 400 people have been killed in the crackdown since Amini’s death, according to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.
Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun’s tattoo reading “love me for who I am” was prominently featured during the national anthem.
On the field, Iran played with an energy and passion not seen in the 6-2 defeat to England.
It was an energy that Wales – who dominated possession without creating many chances – couldn’t match.
On every occasion in the first half, Iran counterattacked and with speed.
They thought they had the opening goal before the VAR correctly ignored it for offside.
If Wales thought Iran’s energy was intense in the first half, they had no idea what was to come.
Iran dominated the early stages of the second half, hitting the post twice within seconds.
First, Azmoun hit the post on a pass on goal. And then Ali Gholizadeh with a shot seconds later.
Azmoun was one of the best in Iran and received a huge applause from the Iranian fans after 67 minutes.
In the 73rd minute, Saeid Ezatolahi went close again but his shot was just saved by Hennessey.
Ben Davies got a powerful shot for a corner in the last 10 minutes in Wales’ best moment.
Moments later, Hennessey was sent off after VAR interfered.
But Iran would not be denied and scored the winner they richly deserved.
After the disaster against England, Iran was determined to go down swinging in Qatar.
On and off the field, they did just that.