Gareth Bale admitted his Wales side are ‘gutted’ by the defeat to Iran which left their hopes of qualification from Group B in tatters.
Having earned a point in their World Cup opener with the United States, the Dragons knew a positive result on Friday would set them up favourably for the final round of games on Tuesday.
However, they couldn’t provide any attacking threat and when Wayne Hennessey was dismissed for racing out of his goal and smashing into Mehdi Teremi, the task for Rob Page’s outfit became insurmountably difficult.
Rouzbeh Cheshmi netted the opener from range in the 98th minute before Ramin Rezaeian dinked substitute goalie Danny Ward on the counter to make it 2-0.
There are question marks over Bale’s immediate future and whether this will be his final tournament appearance with Wales, but his focus remained on the Iran defeat speaking post-match.
He said: “It’s gutting. There’s no other way to say it. We fought until the last second, it’s difficult to take but we have to recover and try and go again.
“We are all gutted. We have to pick ourselves up straight away, it’s going to be difficult but we have to be positive.”
Bale admitted his side are up against it if they want to qualify for the last 16, even if it is still technically possible if they beat England and the result between the United States and Iran is favourable.
He added: “It’s going to be difficult for sure. It depends on the other game, but we’ll see. The red card changes the game completely. We let the first one in, and the second one doesn’t matter. We recover and we go again.”