Russia 2018 Watch: Portugal progress after late drama
PUBLISHED: 07:48 26 June 2018 | UPDATED: 07:48 26 June 2018
Read our World Cup blog over the coming weeks. Lane Dias reviews another game on day 12 of the tournament
Portugal and Iran faced each other in the World Cup for the second time, with both sides aware that a victory would see them through to the knockout stages.
The Portuguese had won the two previous encounters against Iran and were yet to concede against them.
The last meeting in 2006 was won 2-0, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the second – his first ever goal in the tournament, since when he has netted six more.
This latest match was the 20th occasion in which a manager would face his native country, with Carlos Queiroz coaching Iran against Portugal.
Queiroz previously managed Portugal in the 2010 World Cup, when they exited the last 16 against eventual winners Spain.
The European champions were unbeaten in both of their two previous World Cup matches contested on June 25 and had yet to concede, beating the Netherlands 1-0 in the last 16 in Germany 12 years ago, before holding Brazil to a goalless stalemate four years later in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ in South Africa.
Meanwhile, Iran had lost both of their matches played on the same date by two-goal margins, going down 2-0 to Germany in 1998 and 3-1 against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Brazil.
The Seleção das Quinas asserted their dominance early on but found it difficult to get the better of a well-drilled Iranian defence.
It was time for a moment of pure genius. Enter Ricardo Quaresma, who exchanged passes with Adrien Silva before finding the top corner with a trademark ‘trivela’ – curling the ball into the net with the outside of his boot.
Six minutes into the second half, Fernando Santos’ side were awarded a penalty by referee Enrique Cáceres after consulting with VAR, following a soft challenge from Saeid Ezatolahi on Ronaldo.
Ronaldo – dubbed ‘Penaldo’ by Barcelona fans for scoring several penalties – had netted from the spot in Portugal’s previous World Cup encounter against Iran, however he saw his tame effort saved by keeper Alireza Beiranvand this time round.
The Real Madrid star was having an off-night and could have been in trouble in the 82nd minute after catching Iran’s Morteza Pouraliganji.
Despite the Iranian making a meal of the incident, referee Cáceres consulted with VAR before booking Portugal’s talisman.
As it stood, because of Spain drawing 2-2 against Morocco, Portugal were topping the group.
However, in the 90th minute, referee Cáceres awarded the Iranians a dubious spot-kick after harshly penalising Cédric Soares for hand ball – having consulted with VAR once again.
Substitute Karim Ansarifard stepped up to fire into the top corner and give his side late hope, but the decision to award a penalty caused outrage online and in the Match of the Day Studio, where Alan Shearer labelled it as a ‘farce’ after the match.
Matters could have got worse for my beloved Portugal when Mehdi Taremi was sent through on goal, but he fired wide and the Portuguese held on to finish second in the group behind Spain – which means a clash with Uruguay in the last 16.