Iran ignored the distractions that have overshadowed the team since they landed in Qatar to get their World Cup campaign up and running as they rallied to beat sloppy Wales 2-0 on Friday, giving themselves a chance of reaching the knockout stage.
Iran were thrashed 6-2 by England in their Group B opener but those two goals against the table-toppers gave them the confidence that they could compete with European sides as they arrived at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium with a point to prove.
The Asian team has never got past the group stage at five previous World Cups but Carlos Queiroz's players will now fancy their chances after an impressive display as they punished a Welsh side that was reduced to 10 men late in the second half.
"We played today with amazing character, which is the profile of our team. We played with a sense of unity, cohesion," said Queiroz, who was thrown into the air by his players after the full-time whistle.
"Sometimes you lose your dignity, your honour, but of course in our first game we were bleeding in our pride. This was an opportunity to rebound... We played brilliantly and deserved to win."
Even before the match had kicked off, the focus was firmly on the players as they sang the national anthem, having refrained from doing so in their opening game in apparent support for protesters back home.
But once the referee blew the whistle for kickoff, they were laser focused on the job at hand and immediately got stuck in, asking questions of Wales as both sides deployed different formations to set up an intriguing tactical battle.
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