1. Iran’s first win in 20 years and Nike dispute: Morocco 0-1 Iran
Iran enjoyed their first world cup win in 20 years, after beating Morocco 1-0 thanks to the late own goal by Moroccan defender Aziz Bouhaddouz. Their last WC win came in 1998 when they beat USA 2-1.
Ironically, Iran had no shots on target in the second half of the match, making them the only team to win game with no shots on target in the second half, at the world cup finals. The defeat was harsh for the Moroccan side as they missed out on many chances in the first half and those mistakes came to haunt them.
Though it came from a late own goal, Iran’s win was a strong reply to American sports giant Nike, days after the company had denied supplying sports equipment to Iran National Team due to global economic sanctions against the Asian countryand told the players to find their own shoes.
“What Nike did to us was very wrong,” Iran’s Karim Ansarifard said after the match: “I don’t want to comment too much on it. But I can tell you, as a footballer, we don’t compare diplomatic and political problems to sports.
2. Two African nations, Two defeats: Egypt 0-1 Uruguay
It was a sad night for African football fans as both the teams that played on day two failed to secure any points. Apart from a couple of real goal scoring chances for Uruguay, Egypt had a comfortable match until 88th Minute, before Jose Gimenez, the Atletico defender scored a delightful header to give Uruguay three points.
Needless to say, Egypt did miss their ‘Egyptian King’ Mohamed Salah as he did not play a single minute, three weeks after a Sergio Ramos tackle in UCL final sent him to the sideline with shoulder injury.
If Egypt are to qualify for Round of 16 from group A, they are certainly going to need Mo Salah.
3. The best always delivers- Cristiano Ronaldo hattrick:
Ronaldo scored the 51st hattrick of his career against Spain on Friday, becoming the oldest player to do so, at the age of 33. This was also the 51st hattrick scored in WC finals. Ronaldo took just three minutes to score the first goal for Portugal after winning a penalty against his Real Madrid teammate Nacho. Two of his goals were levelled by a brace from Spain’s Diego Costa. Spain went on to take a 3-2 lead early in the second half with the goals from Costa and Nacho.
Ronaldo scored a late free kick which saw De Gea frozen on the goal line to complete the hattrick. Ronaldo’s hattrick secured a point for Portugal as they were a happier side with the result.
There is always a battle within the war when Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are playing in a tournament, be it with club or national team. And when its needed, the best players always deliver.
It will be interesting to see how Lionel Messi responds to Ronaldo’s hattrick. Not to forget that no other Argentine player has scored a competitive goal for national team in the last 16 months except Lionel Messi. The ball is certainly in his court.
4. De Gea’s Blunder: Portugal 3-3 Spain
David De Gea certainly had a night to forget as he conceded three goals last night, including the first goalkeeper blunder of World Cup 2018. For Potugal’s second goal, Ronaldo had a low shot from outside the box with no venomous power to beat De Gea. The goalkeeper misjudged the shot which gave Portugal 2-1 lead just before the halftime whistle.
This is not the first time a Spanish goalkeeper has had a dreadful night at the world cup. In 2014 world cup, former goalkeeper Iker Casillas had a similar game against Netherlands, when Spain were beaten 5-1 and eventually were knocked out at group stage.
5. Late goals in Russia:
Late goals have certainly been the highlight of World Cup matches so far in Russia. Out of total 13 goals scored in four matches, 4 goals have come in the last five minutes of the match which includes Winners for Uruguay and Iran, and an equaliser by Ronaldo for Portugal.
The teams are making sure stadiums are full till the very last whistle from the referee.
Atharva Desai (Team Sportsnasha)