Wales’ World Cup dream is over after two injury time goals from Iran condemned them to a 2-0 defeat.
Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was sent of for a reckless challenge as he tried to intercept a long ball, while Iran had earlier struck both posts within seconds of each other before deservedly taking all three points.
Wales were lucky not to be behind after struggling in the first half against Iran and had a goal against them disallowed for offside.
Shortly after half-time it was hearts in mouth again for Wales as Iran struck both posts within seconds of each other.
Iran’s Sardar Azmoun smacked one post from close range before Ali Gholizadeh curled an effort from outside the box against the other.
Iran’s Roozbeh Cheshmi celebrates scoring the opening goal before his country doubled their lead
Mehdi Torabi shoots past Wales captain Gareth Bale during Iran’s 2-0 victory in the Group B match
Iran’s Ramin Rezaeian celebrates after scoring a goal during the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar
Gareth Bale of Wales reacts after the 0-2 loss
Kieffer Moore of Wales reacts after a missed chance during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran
Wales then had goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey shown a straight red card with five minutes of normal time remaining as he rushed off his line to intercept a long pass.
And in injury time goals from Rouzbeh Cheshmi and Ramin Rezaeian secured a two-goal win for Iran, leaving Wales with just a single point from their first two Group B games.
Mathematically, Wales can still qualify for the knockout stages, but they now require the US to beat England and Iran and will also need to beat an English side which won their opening game 6-2.
Gareth Bale admitted he was ‘gutted’ by the last-gasp defeat.
He told the BBC: ‘It’s gutting, we’re gutted, there’s no other way to say it. We fought to the last seconds but it’s difficult to take.
‘But we have to pick ourselves up straight away, it’s going to be difficult but we have one game left.
‘We will have to see. What can I say? We’ll recover and we have to go again.’
Hennessey’s rush of blood, when he raced out of his goal and wiped out Iran striker Mehdi Taremi, left Wales with an uphill struggle.
Bale added: ‘I haven’t seen so I don’t know – but obviously the red card changed the game completely.’
Prior to kick-off, thousands of Welsh fans belted out their national anthem and the Iranian fans jeered their own – in solidarity with protesters back home in Iran.
Iran’s players, though, appeared to back down from their protest following pressure from the Islamic regime.
The Red Wall was filled with glum faces as Wales suffered a 2-0 defeat in the crucial World Cup match
Wales fans appeared dejected as the final whistle was blown, ending the game and likely their World Cup
Schoolchildren at Rhiwbeina Primary School, Cardiff, react as they watched Wales lose the crucial World Cup match
Heartbroken Welsh fans react after Iran’s first injury time goal, shortly before they doubled their lead
A gutted Welsh fan looks utterly downcast in Cardiff after watching Wales fall to a 2-0 defeat to Iran
Wales football fans react at the end of the match as they watch their country’s World Cup defeat
Wales’ Joe Allen looks dejected after Iran’s Roozbeh Cheshmi scores their side’s first goal of the game during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Their previous refusal to sing was a show of solidarity with protesters in their home country, hundreds of whom have been killed in clashes with government security services over the death of Mahsa Amini – a woman who died in custody after being arrested by the Tehran’s morality police.
But many Iranian fans in the stands still displayed slogans supporting the protests on Friday, drawing particular attention to human rights issues and the plight of women.
Qatari authorities took particular issue with one female fan, who had painted her face white – with bloody tears pouring out from her eyes. She held up an Iranian football shirt displaying the name of Mahsa Amini and the number 22 – her age when she died.
Meanwhile, the Red Wall basked in bright sunshine and 29C temperatures as the sea of fans watched captain Gareth Bale and his teammates begin their match in Doha’s Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, which got off to a frenetic, end-to-end start.
Wales’ Wayne Hennessey is shown a red card by referee Mario Escobar for a reckless challenge
Wales fans in the stands during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium ahead of kick-off
Schoolchildren at Rhiwbeina Primary School, Cardiff, watching the World Cup match in an assembly hall
The Red Wall basked in bright sunshine and 29C temperatures as the sea of fans watched captain Gareth Bale and his teammates begin their match
Water sprinklers used to wet the pitch formed a rainbow inside the ground prior to kick-off this morning
The Welsh team, led by captain Gareth Bale, belt out their national anthem ahead of the match against Iran
Welsh fans sing in a Cardiff pub ahead of the crucial match as anticipation built for Wales’ second game of the tournament
Wales supporters at a fanpark in Swansea hold their arms aloft as they chant during the match
Three thousand Welsh football supporters have gathered at the FanPark to watch the crucial clash
But in the build-up to the kick-off, attention was elsewhere. While some of Iran’s players gave a muted rendition of their anthem, their fans jeered as it was played over the stadium’s speakers.
Before kick off, anticipation was building outside the stadium and at the Corniche Walk Park, with pictures showing hundreds of fans in football kits, proudly waving flags emblazoned with the red Welsh dragon.
A sea of red shirts and bucket hats could be seen on the city’s waterfront, along with the Urdd Youth Choir and Yma o Hyd singer Dafydd Iwan, with the crowd belting out fan favourites including I Love You Baby, and the Welsh national anthem.
After their 1-1 draw with the USA on Monday, Wales are chasing a historic first World Cup victory in 64 years that would take them a significant step closer to progressing from the group stage. Their final match comes against England on Tuesday.
Around 5,000 Wales fans are inside the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium to watch their team appearing at their first World Cup since 1958.
England will play the US in the other Group B match today, but fans dressed as Crusaders have been turned away from World Cup matches in Qatar as their costumes are ‘offensive to Muslims’.
Iran’s Sardar Azmoun hit the post shortly after half time as Wales survived another scare
Just seconds later, Ali Gholizadeh curled an effort from outside the box against the other post
Bale is challenged by Milad Mohammadi during a tense first half in which Iran had a goal disallowed
After their 1-1 draw with the USA on Monday, Wales are chasing a historic first World Cup victory in 64 years
Around 5,000 Wales fans are inside the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium to watch their team. Pictured: Bale recovers from a challenge in the first half
Wales escaped an early scare after an Iranian goal was ruled offside in the crucial tie
Two fancy-dress knights were allegedly seen on social media trying to get through security before England’s match with Iran on Monday. They were wearing chainmail and helmets bearing St George’s Cross.
It is claimed that the pair, who were also carrying novelty swords, were escorted away by four officers at the security gate before kick-off.
And a similar experience could be in store for those attending tonight’s match against the USA, with the Times reporting Three Lions fans have been banned from dressing as the Christian invaders.
As Welsh fans were seen packing out the pubs this morning despite the midweek morning kick-off, Britons are enjoying a festival of World Cup football as England also play this evening.
Football-mad workers in the UK have been throwing ‘sickies’ at record rates so they can watch World Cup matches, employers are claiming. Businesses have been flocking to legal advisers amid concerns staff are taking rogue days off, with today unlikely to be any different give the magnitude of the two matches.
One commuter tweeted: ‘More people drinking on this train into Cardiff than going to work. What a country’.
Wales fans were in the pub for breakfast and some pints this morning ahead of the early kick off. And with four matches this Friday, many will make a day of it, especially if Rob Page’s men get the win they need.