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Iran vs Portugal
2018 FIFA World Cup, Group B
Iran entered the game needing a win to progress to the Round of 16 – and they played like their lives depended on it.
Portugal piled on the pressure early, with Cristiano Ronaldo looking for a third early goal in as many games.
Iran defended for dear life and got away with three massive goalkeeping errors early in the half.
They then started to settle into the game and find their shape – looking dangerous on the counter-attack.
Just as it looked like it would be a job well done for the Iranians in the first half however, Portugal had a moment of magic.
Ricardo Quaresma scored a stunning goal from outside of the box – with the outside of his boot – to give Portugal the lead right on half time.
Iran went into half time needing two goals to progress to the next round and they haven’t scored from open play all tournament.
Iran came out in the second half looking to change that fast – but things weren’t going their way.
They were going Portugal’s way however, as Ronaldo won a penalty in the box that was only awarded thanks for VAR.
Ronaldo stepped us and had the chance to more or less cement Portugal’s place in the Round of 16 – but Alireza Beiranvand had other plans.
The young Iranian keeper saved Ronaldo’s penalty and Iran were still alive.
From there the game heated up significantly and even the managers got involved.
Then right at the death Iran were handed a lifeline.
An injury time penalty saw Karim Ansarifard put the Iranians level.
They came agonisingly close one minute later – but it was not to be – as Portugal booked a place in the Last 16 and Iranian hearts were broken.
It was a game that had almost everything and it ended level.
Iran need a win over Portugal if they are going to progress to the Round of 16. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 4am AEST.
Iran enter their final group game with everything to play for – and only a win will do if they are to progress to the Last 16.
Unfortunately for them, that win has to come against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal – who have proved to be resilient in recent fixtures.
However, Iran have shown their resilience as well, coming within a whisker of getting a point out of their game against Spain.
A defensive mistake led to Spain’s goal before a missed header and VAR intervention lead to Iran’s 1-nil loss.
Portugal have been carried by Ronaldo and goalkeeper Rui Patricio in their past two fixtures.
They are coming off a 1-nil win over Morocco, where Ronaldo’s early goal was enough to seal all three points and knock Morocco out of the World Cup.
That game proved that Portugal can defend as well as attack, fending off wave after wave of attack.
Ronaldo is looking to seal the golden boot early – he has scored four goals in two games.
Both teams have been both impressive and unimpressive. Iran are more than capable of getting a result – but Portugal have Ronaldo. Iran are also struggling to score from open play with their only goal of the tournament coming via an own goal.
Iran 0 – 1 Portugal
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 4am AEST.