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Portugal Advance Despite Ronaldo’s Penalty Miss

Iran v Portugal: Group B - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty against Iran.
Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

After group A was finished earlier today, it was already decided that the winner of group B would meet Russia in the last 16 on Sunday, with the runner-up in group B meeting Uruguay on Saturday. Spain and Portugal played their final group stage games at the same time, against Iran and Morocco respectively, to fight it out for first place in the group to avoid Uruguay in the round-of-16.

Iranian side were in need of three points to advance into the round of 16. They fielded a more attacking side than the ones we saw in previous games.

After just a couple of minutes, Cristiano Ronaldo fired off his first shot. The 33-year-old received a pass by West Ham player João Mário, but Ronaldo fired straight at goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand in the Iran goal.

After around 15 minutes, Portugal got a free-kick from around 25 meters. Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up as he always does, but this time, his shot went straight into the wall. It was not Cristiano Ronaldo that got on the score sheet in the first half, but rather his friend Ricardo Quaresma. The Besiktas player scored with his trademark move — a goal with the outside of his foot — right before half time. Ali Beiranvand could only watch the ball go into the top corner.

Cristiano Ronaldo got a big chance to score in his third consecutive match when he got fouled inside the area after just around five minutes into the second half. The Paraguayan referee, Enrique Cáceres, had to see the replay of the situation on the VAR screen, and after a minute of watching the situation, Cáceres pointed at the spot. Ronaldo stepped up yet again as he did against Spain. However, it was Ali Beiranvand that won the battle between the two and the 25-year-old goalkeeper saved a bad penalty from Ronaldo.

Portugal struggled more with Iran in the second half, and Carlos Queiroz’s side should perhaps have been rewarded a penalty five minutes after Portugal was awarded their chance from the spot. But Enrique Cáceres didn’t agree, and this time VAR didn’t interfere. With ten minutes to go, VAR once again stole the show in Saransk. This time it was for a possible red card for Ronaldo, who hit an Iranian player with his elbow. However, Cáceres decided not to send the Portuguese star off, but rather show him the yellow card.

Right before full-time, VAR stole attention again. This time it was for a possible handball on Cédric, and after a couple of minutes, Enrique Cáceres pointed to the spot and Iran had the chance to equalize. Karim Ansarifard was ice-cold with his penalty, and it was 1-1 in Saransk. At the same time, Spain scored the equalizer in Kaliningrad when Iago Aspas scored his first goal of the tournament, setting the score to 2-2.

Just seconds after the penalty goal, Vahid Amiri got the chance of his life. The 30-year-old was one-on-one with Rui Patrício in the Portugal goal. Amiri could send Portugal out of the tournament and send his country through to the last 16, but his shot went to the wrong side of the net. Both matches ended with a draw, but Spain got first place in group B after scoring one more goal than Portugal. This means that Spain will meet Russia, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will meet Uruguay this upcoming Saturday.

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