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After Portugal's victory over Morocco, Spain had to respond with a similar result to keep their hopes alive.

But while lady luck smiled on Spain, the same was not to be said for Iran, whose efforts went unrewarded - Spain left breathing a collective sigh of relief on a day they were far from "Supermen". But the teams and their video analysts would have taken note. Though he was under the spotlight the previous time, David de Gea enjoyed coach Fernando Hierro's vote of confidence between the sticks. In fact, the manner of their return to the pitch for the second half - with players closely grouped together and patting each other on the back - gave every indication they were just as united as ever.

The Iranians too seemed to be prepared for this encounter.

Few would argue that the Spanish did not deserve the three points given the way they dominated nearly all of the contest, but Team Melli deserve plenty of plaudits firstly for doing their best to keep their star-studded opponents at bay and then giving them a real scare after they had fallen behind. It was a defense-first game, with only a single goal scored throughout.

And that is what Spain were looking for. The game will kick off in a few moments.

First place in the group could be decided by goal difference. "We know it will be hard against Portugal but we don't come here expecting easy things".

They must now go on to beat Portugal in their final game to be in with a chance of progressing from Group B. "We play the game with great fighting spirit".

The Spaniards eventually broke the deadlock, breaking Iranian hearts early in the second half, but not before some thrills. It was the side netting.

Spurred on by their vociferous fans, Iran's imposing players did well to handle Spain's attacks.

Costa scored in the 54th minute after being set up by Andres Iniesta. A couple of ricochets later, the ball found the net. Though the goal had put the Iranians behind, it didn't dent their resolve.

He only had one chance against Iran, and he converted it.

Let's look at the Iran vs. Spain betting lines. "They had to play properly in the wide positions - wide, wide wide". From that point, Spain held onto the ball and killed the game.

Saeid Ezatolahi defends against Diego Costa during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match at Kazan Arena on June 20, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. Spain lack width - Spain have often lacked width - but no longer have a midfield able to prevent opponents from having the ball, so need to score more goals.

For all the chatter about the technology at this tournament, one thing was clear from Spain's perspective; it saved them a huge embarrassment here. 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.

Iran needed a late goal to top Morocco by a final score of 1-0.


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