If you would have told me that Spain and Portugal would advance out of Group B I would have said, well yeah. That was almost not the case, however.
Iran was this close to sending Portugal home in stoppage time on Tuesday afternoon.
It was a game largely consisting of players from both teams screaming at the ref, mixed in with VAR controversy and two goals. A classic Ricardo Quaresma goal got things going for Portugal. Once everyone got over the fact that it was actually someone other than Ronaldo who scored for Portugal, videos popped up on twitter of the outside of the boot effort from Quaresma, who seems to only score ridiculous goals. Fast forward to later in the game and once again the Iranian players were up in arms over a possible Ronaldo red card. The play was reviewed by VAR, and Ronaldo was shown a yellow card. I disagreed with much of twitter, and having watched the video about 20 times I still don’t really see what Ronaldo did wrong. Iran was then gifted a late penalty (due to VAR), which they converted. For roughly five minutes any slip up made by Portugal would see them go home. That moment came as the picture above describes. It would have been unthinkable and it nearly happened.
Portugal 1 – Iran 1
Meanwhile in the Spain – Morocco game some strange things of their own were unfolding. Spain which had trailed Morocco 1 – 0 after a costly giveaway had battled back to draw level. It was a classic Spain performance in someways and in other ways it was not. Dominating the ball for the entire game but unable to create great scoring opportunities, Spain was shocked when Morocco scored off of a corner kick with little time remaining. If you were familiar with the group standings and what needed to happen for each team to advance, it wasn’t a goal that would necessarily send Spain packing but was still incredibly surprising to see. With Spain about to lose to Morocco, Iago Aspas back heel flicked the ball into the back of the net. The goal was initially waved as offside, but VAR correctly ruled it a goal.
Spain 2 – Morocco 2
After all was settled, the Iago Aspas goal was important because it sent Spain to the top of Group B which will see them play Russia. Portugal, luckily to still be in the tournament, will take on Uruguay.