Spain and Portugal drew 3-3 in Group B of the 2018 World Cup on Friday, June15 at Fisht Stadium. Here are all the highlights from the match.
Cometh the hour, cometh the Cristiano. Portugal wasted two Ronaldo goals against Spain in their opening match of the World Cup, but his third was enough to secure a draw against the Group B favorites and set Fernando Santos’ side well on their way to the round of 16 with matches against Iran and Morocco on the way.
Portugal stunned Spain in the first half, Ronaldo drawing a penalty from club teammate Nacho after only three minutes that he finished easily past David de Gea. The penalty was perhaps a little soft, but replays (and VAR) suggested there was enough contact to justify Ronaldo’s tumble.
The Spaniards, who fired their manager, Julen Lopetegui, just a day before the start of the tournament, seemed rattled early on, taking control of possession after going behind but struggling to create any chances outside of a speculative volley from David Silva, and generally failing to find any rhythm in midfield.
Portugal, meanwhile, continued to look dangerous on the break, with Ronaldo playing a key role in several dangerous moves. They should have doubled their lead in the 22nd minute, but Goncalo Guedes fluffed his touch after Ronaldo laid the ball off for him at the end of a rapid, full-pitch breakaway.
For all Spain’s possession, it was notable that their equalizer came from a slightly hopeful long ball. Diego Costa beat Pepe in the air, before taking on three Portugal defenders and rifling the ball into the bottom corner. Given Costa’s struggles with La Roja, it was an emphatic finish and a timely reminder of what he could offer this team if they can get the best out of him.
With Spain beginning to move through the gears following their equalizer, passing with a speed and verve very few sides can match, Portugal retook the lead. Ronaldo was the scorer, but the goal belonged to de Gea, so good all season for Manchester United, but who made a serious error, allowing a bad shot through his legs and into the goal.
Spain once again fought their way back into the contest, Costa scoring his second from close range after Sergio Busquets knocked a free-kick back across goal. The VAR officials reviewed the play for a possible push by Busquets, but the goal stood, and had the same galvanizing effect as La Roja’s first.
Fernando Hierro’s side led three minutes later thanks to the best goal of the lot, a stunning first-time half volley by Nacho, venturing forward from right-back to the top of the penalty area, that hit the post before nestling into the bottom corner. Above all, it was a moment of release, Nacho atoning for giving away that early penalty, de Gea let off the hook for his howler.
And then it was gone. Portugal were awarded a free-kick in the 87th minute, which Ronaldo lined up to take with his usual dramatic flair. Of course it all looks a lot better when you put the ball in the top corner, as he did, giving de Gea no chance this time. Spain showed strength to come from behind twice, but, for the first time at a World Cup, this was Ronaldo’s game.
Spain’s next match is on Wednesday against Iran. Portugal play Morocco the same day.