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Portugal vs Spain: An alternative review

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Portugal and Spain at Fisht Stadium on June 15, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
15th June, 2018
0

What a game, that’s all there is to say. One of the best group matches ended in a 3-3 draw, with one of football’s superstars taking centre stage.

The result
Portugal 3 – Cristiano Ronaldo (4′ pen, 44′, 88′)
Spain 3 – Diego Costa (24′, 55′), Nacho (58′)

Was it worth the lack of sleep?
Game rating: 9.5/10

Oh yeah. Two big top-ten teams fighting over three points and a vital first place in Group B and an easier passage through to the finals.

Often the big games turn out to be cagey, dull and a disappointing (like most in the EPL) but this game was great from start to finish and certainly worth the loss of sleep in on Saturday morning.

So what happened?
A lot of things happened. Six goals in all, changes of lead and a hat-trick for one of football’s greatest on the big stage.

The first goal came quickly and through Ronaldo after he was taken down inside the penalty area. The penalty was soft but correct. Diego Costa equalised through brute strength on the 21st minute, with not even the video assistant referee being able to spoil the party for the Spanish.

Spain did a lot of passing, but Portugal looked dangerous on the counter-attack, and who wouldn’t with Ronaldo lurking and waiting? That is exactly what happened just before half-time, when Ronaldo scored his second goal after drilling a seemingly easy shot to David de Gea, who spilled the ball through his arms into the net, taking it to 2-1 just before the break.

Spain got on top in the second half and Diego Costa levelled again in the 55th minute with a powerful header. Three minutes later Nacho sent a firecracker through the Portuguese goal-keeper and took the lead, 3-2.

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The game went end to end in a thrilling finish until Ronaldo drilled the final free kick. Almost worse still for Spain is that Portugal could have snatched the game, but fairly they didn’t.

Cristiano Ronaldo

(Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

What did we learn?
Some things we knew before the game, but a few surprises came out of it. Cristiano Ronaldo is bloody good. Like him or hate him, the man wins big games. There was an air of inevitability when Ronaldo was standing over that free kick at 3-2 down.

We also learnt that David de Gea is human after all, and Diego Costa is an effective forward even with the passing game of the Spanish.

After both sides conceded very few goals in qualifying, the three goals each was a surprise. And perhaps this World Cup isn’t going to be a defensive as first feared.

The turning point
When Diego Costa goes off with Spain 3-2 up.

Where to from here?
Both teams should still get through, but pressure is now on Spain, as another loss puts them in danger of an early exit.

Portugal have Morocco next and Spain play surprise early Group B leaders Iran.

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Moment of joy
It depends on who you were supporting. The Nacho goal would have been the moment for Spanish fans and neutrals, but the third Ronaldo goal was pure joy for Portuguese.

Best goal
The last two certainly saved the best until last. Nacho’s super strike from outside the box was super and unstoppable, but so was Ronaldo’s free kick, and under such pressure.

[latest_videos_strip category=”football” name=”Football”]

The star
Cristiano Ronaldo. He was the difference between Portugal getting something or nothing out of the game. His final free kick just showed his superstar quality in big games.

Diego Costa was also very good for Spain.

Other bits and pieces

  • Diego Costa looks so robust on a football field that one wonders if he could be one of the only footballers on earth to be able to make it in rugby league.
  • English Football League Beast Adebayo Akinfenwa is one of the other.
  • For all his greatness, is Ronaldo the most petulant sportsperson ever? Or is that just the tall poppy syndrome talking?
  • Another potential candidate for worst head injury that wasn’t quite, as Diego Costa slightly brushed the chin of the Portugal defender who immediately went down clutching his forehead.

Lookalikes
Cristiano Ronaldo sort of looks like the bust that someone made of him a while back, and the referee looked a little like Dr House, AKA Hugh Laurie.

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