A fortuitous Diego Costa goal helped Spain overcome a dogged Iran to secure a 1-0 win in their World Cup Group B clash in Kazan.
Carlos Queiroz’s side produced a defensive masterclass to reduce Spain to nothing more than half-chances during a hugely frustrating opening 53 minutes for the 2010 champions.
Costa – who scored twice in Friday’s pulsating 3-3 draw with Portugal – eventually found the breakthrough, though, when Ramin Rezaeian’s attempted clearance cannoned off his leg and into the bottom-left corner.
Iran had the ball in the back of the net just eight minutes later courtesy of Saeid Ezatolahi, but their wild celebrations were cut short after referee Andres Cunha was advised by VAR that Rezaeian’s vital intervention had been made from an offside position.
Iran’s approach was far more positive following Costa’s strike, Mehdi Taremi heading just over from close range in what was their clearest opportunity to find an unlikely leveller.
The win moves Spain level on points with Portugal at the top of Group B and they know a draw against Morocco on Monday will be enough to secure qualification for the knockout stages. Iran, meanwhile, face Portugal on the same day needing a win to progress at the expense of Cristiano Ronaldo and Co.