Costa on target to give Spain victory

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IR Iran and Spain rounded off Matchday 2 in Group B, with La Roja securing a deserved 1-0 win to record their first victory at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

Fernando Hierro made two changes to Spain’s starting line-up following their opening match against Portugal, as Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez respectively replaced Nacho and Koke. However, the Iberians struggled to break down a reshuffled Iranian defence that included Majid Hosseini in place of the injured Roozbeh Cheshmi. Indeed, Spain’s first clear opening did not arrive until around the half-hour mark, when David Silva went close with a sideways scissor kick, before narrowly missing the target again just before the break with a deflected shot.

The second half started brightly and Gerard Pique, earning his 100th cap for Spain, had a chance from a corner before Sergio Busquets tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area. Team Melli had a sight of goal at the other end of the pitch in the 53rd minute, but Karim Ansarifard’s shot could only brush the side netting. Spain took the lead with their next attack a minute later, the ball ricocheting into the net off Diego Costa, who registered his third goal in two matches. Iran grew more adventurous after falling behind and Vahid Amiri almost levelled matters with a header that flew just over.

Team reporter analysis
Iran initially set out to sit deep and play on the counter but were forced to change their tactics after Spain scored. They created a number of chances but were unable to convert any, leaving them ruing a dropped point.

Spain picked up a narrow win before going into their final Group B fixture against Morocco. Hierro’s charges went up against a well-organised side with a solid backline, but took all three points thanks to their experienced midfielders and an in-form Costa.

Budweiser Man of the Match
Diego Costa‘s goalscoring instincts are blossoming in Russia. The forward got his name on the scoresheet again, netting a vital goal against a disciplined Iranian side after an excellent turn to escape his marker, and making good use of his physical prowess.

The stat
15  Sergio Ramos made his 15th World Cup appearance in this match, taking him level with Xavi Hernandez. Iker Casillas (17) and Andoni Zubizarreta (16) are the only two players in La Roja history to have featured more often at the global showpiece.

What’s next?
Spain v Morocco – Group B – 25 June, Kaliningrad
IR Iran v Portugal – Group B – 25 June, Saransk

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