Diego Costa kept his World Cup goalscoring run going as Spain edged a nervy 1-0 victory over Iran to boost their hopes of reaching the last 16 of the World Cup.
Iran and Spain could not be separated at half-time, with David Silva enjoying perhaps the best chance of a goalless first half when his acrobatic attempt to score was closed down by the Team Melli defence.
Spain turned up the heat after the break and got their reward nine minutes after the restart, although there was a huge slice of luck about Costa’s third goal of the World Cup.
Andres Iniesta found Costa in the box, and although Iran defender Ramin Rezaeian got to the ball first, his attempted clearance cannoned off the Atletico Madrid striker’s knee and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Despite that setback, Iran rallied and thought they had drawn level with 25 minutes left on the clock. Spain failed to clear a deep free-kick into their penalty area, and Saeid Ezatolahi smashed home from close range to spark scenes of wild jubilation among the Team Melli-heavy crowd – but referee Andres Cunha ruled the goal out for offside following a VAR review.
Iran then survived a goalmouth scramble involving half the players on the pitch, but Spain saw out the match to claim a vital victory in Group B to leapfrog Iran.
Spain are now level with Portugal on four points after two games, and will progress to the last 16 with a point against Morocco. Iran, meanwhile, must get at least a point against Portugal to keep their knockout hopes alive.