Spain joined Portugal at the top of the Group B after securing a 1:0 victory against Iran at the Kazan Arena, courtesy of another goal from Diego Costa.

Spain drew even with Portugal atop the Group B standings following a less than convincing win over Iran. The 2010 World Champions faced a surprisingly stiff challenge from Carlos Queiroz’s men, who were defensively stout throughout the course of the game.

One of the favourites for this year’s FIFA World Cup, Spain dominated the possession throughout the game, especially in the first half. Their proficiency of retaining possession as well as circulating the ball prevented Iran from being a threat in the attack as they finished the game with a whopping 78% possession.

However, that being said, La Roja failed to unlock the rigid Iranian defence for the most part of the game but their only goal came from Diego Costa when an Iranian defender kicked the ball off the Atletico striker and the ball ricocheted into his own net. Even though Iran did bounce back quite strongly afterwards through Saied Ezatolahi, the Asian giants were denied the goal as VAR came into the rescue for the tournament heavyweights.

The win gives Spain a much-needed boost as they look to seal their place in the knockout rounds in their final group game against Morocco. And here at the Hard Tackle, we pick out three players who stood out the most in this highly competitive encounter.

Sergio Ramos

Isco and Sergio Ramos are key components in this Spain setup for the World Cup. (Photo courtesy - Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty)

The Captain showing the way once again. (Photo courtesy – Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty)

Sergio Ramos was absolutely flawless in defence and was one of the key reasons as to why Iran failed to destabilize Spain’s back four. Despite conceding a rather shambolic goal in the second half, which was, thankfully for him, ruled out for offside, La Roja captain led his side by example tonight against a spirited Iranian attack.

He formed a formidable defensive partnership with Gerard Pique in the heart of the Spanish defence, which not only provided solidity but also made them much more effective in the build-up play. The 32-year-old was definitely a vital cog in Spain’s possession-based game, completing as many as 101 passes with an accuracy of 92.

Ramos also made a host of well-timed tackles whilst winning six aerial duels, ultimately helping his side see out their slender one-goal lead at the end.

An impressive performance against Iran will surely boost the confidence of Sergio Ramos, who will be hopeful of leading Spain to glory in this edition of the FIFA World Cup.

Sergio Busquets

Barcelona's midfielder Sergio Busquets (R) and Barcelona's midfielder Andres Iniesta (L) arrive at the Joan Gamper Sports Center in Sant Joan Despi near Barcelona on April 3, 2018 on the eve their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg football match between Barcelona and AS Roma. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)

Spain’s unsung hero. (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)

Although it may seem a vague decision not to include Andres Iniesta, it’s high time we acknowledge the fact that Sergio Busquets was an absolute genius in the middle third of the pitch tonight.

The Barcelona superstar looked incredibly comfortable in possession, despite Iran’s intensive pressing throughout the course of the match. His assurance on the ball coupled with his pin-point passing helped Spain assert dominance against their opposition, at least in possession phases.

Busquets completed 97 passes of varying degrees with an accuracy of 95%, which is only bettered by Dani Carvajal. In addition, the 29-year-old won three important aerial duels in midfield and had the second most touches of the ball.

However, that being said, Spain head coach Fernando Hierro will be hoping that Sergio Busquets can maintain his good form before his side goes head to head against Morocco next week.


Spain's chief string-puller (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Spain’s chief string-puller (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By far the most consistent attacker on the pitch, Isco Alarcon once again proved why he’s regarded as one of the best playmakers in Europe following a stunning performance against Iran.

The Real Madrid superstar was involved in almost every attacking moment from Spain and created the bulk of their chances in the final third. Aside from making the most number of passes, Isco also took the highest number of touches, which is no mean feat at all, especially for a someone whose job is to provide creativity in the opposition half.

Even though the 26-year-old is still yet to score a goal in this World Cup, Isco’s good form will be a huge boost for Spain, as they brace themselves for tougher challenges as they advance further into the tournament.

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