PRIDE OF IRAN
Hosts Qatar tumble out of World Cup as Iran stun Wales
Members of the Iran team celebrate after scoring their first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B match against Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha, on Friday. The Iranians won 2-0. With the sound of the referee's final whistle, Iranians poured into Tehran's streets on foot, by scooter and car to celebrate their national team's World Cup win. An explosion of joy greeted Iran's win — with both goals coming deep in injury time — as many momentarily forgot the tension created by two months of unrest following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. The faces piling into Martyr's Square, in the centre of the capital, were all smiles on Friday. (Photo: AFP)

DOHA, Qatar (AFP) Host nation Qatar were eliminated from the World Cup on Friday after a second-straight defeat as Iran beat Wales 2-0 to breathe new life into a campaign overshadowed by mass anti-government protests at home.

Qatar lost 3-1 to Senegal and became the first team to be knocked out of this World Cup after the Netherlands and Ecuador drew 1-1 in the other Group A game.

Asian champions Qatar had high hopes coming into the tournament but become only the second home team to crash out in the group stage, after South Africa in 2010.

Goals from Boulaye Dia, Famara Diedhiou and Bamba Dieng were enough to give African champions Senegal the win.

It is the first time the World Cup hosts have gone out after just two games.

Qatar forward Akram Afif (centre) is pressured by Senegal's midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye (left) and Senegal defender Youssouf Sabaly during their Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A match at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha on Friday. (Photo:: AFP)

"We would like to say we're very sorry to the supporters, to the country," said Qatar defender Tarek Salman, who was a second-half substitute.

"We have made them feel bad about losing two games in a row in the World Cup."

The Netherlands, who have chalked up two wins, will qualify for the last 16 by avoiding defeat to Qatar in their final match.

Senegal must beat Ecuador to advance to the knockout phase.

The Iranian players sang the national anthem before their last-gasp win over Wales, having opted to stay silent in their opener in Qatar in an apparent gesture of support for anti-government protesters. And the Iranians were worthy winners against a team reduced to 10 men late in the match.

Iran, who would have been eliminated if they had lost, punished Gareth Bale's Wales in the eighth minute of injury time when substitute Rouzbeh Cheshmi smashed home.

The Iranians sent their thousands of fans at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha wild when Ramin Rezaeian clipped in a second goal on the counter-attack.

There were emotional scenes as Iran's players and staff, including their Portuguese Coach Carlos Queiroz, embraced on the pitch and took in the acclaim of their supporters.

Mehdi Taremi, the team's star striker, paid tribute to Iran's fans.

"Thank you to our supporters, they helped us all the time," said Taremi, who was cut down by Wayne Hennessey when the goalkeeper came haring out of his goal.

Hennessey was sent off in the 86th minute, earning the first red card of the World Cup following a VAR review.

"We need those supporters to support us like always," added Taremi, whose side will reach the last 16 if they win a politically charged clash with the United States on Tuesday.

Iran were thumped 6-2 by England in their opening match.

Iran has been shaken by two months of nationwide protests since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody on September 16.

Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, died three days after her arrest in Tehran over an alleged breach of the dress code for women, which includes the mandatory hijab headscarf.

An AFP photographer at the stadium on Friday witnessed security staff confiscating a fan's flag emblazoned with the slogan of the protests, "Woman, Life, Freedom".

Some Iranian fans were in tears during the singing of the anthem.

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