Portugal 1, Iran 1
Group B, Mordovia Arena, Saransk
After 90 minutes Monday, Portugal’s ticket to the knockout round and a Sunday matchup with Russia in Moscow seemed all but assured. Cristiano Ronaldo’s squad had dominated much of the game and owned a 1-0 lead on a goal by Ricardo Quaresma. Given what had transpired in Group B’s simultaneous contest in Kaliningrad, where Spain and Morocco played to a 2-2 tie, Iran needed a win to advance. Team Melli ultimately came up a goal short, but not before a controversial penalty awarded after a VAR review and another chance in stoppage time made Portugal and its supporters sweat at the prospect of elimination.
With the draw, Portugal (1-2-0) finishes second in Group B and will face Group A champion Uruguay in Sochi on Saturday. Spain and Portugal finished with identical records and goal differentials (+1), but Spain wins the group by virtue of scoring one more goal.
Iran (1-1-1) scored the equalizer in Monday’s match three minutes into stoppage time after VAR determined Cédric Soares committed a handball on a header by Sardar Azmoun in the box. Karim Ansarifard buried his penalty kick into the top right corner of the net to even the score at 1-1. Two minutes later, Mehdi Taremi nearly gave Iran the lead, but his shot from close range sailed wide of the goal.
Portugal struck first in the 45th minute on Quaresma’s curling right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that dipped under the crossbar.
Ronaldo missed a golden opportunity to give Portugal a 2-0 lead in the 53rd minute after a VAR review awarded him a penalty kick, but Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand turned away his shot bound for the bottom right corner of the net. It wasn’t the last time VAR would feature prominently in a play by Ronaldo. In the 81st minute, the on-field official reviewed Ronaldo’s elbow to the face of Iran’s Morteza Pouraliganji, who was attempting to impede the Portuguese forward’s progress. Ronaldo was issued a yellow card, but he easily could have received a red.
Full-time: Portugal survived a late surge by Iran to earn a 1-1 draw, which is all they needed to advance to the knockout stage. Spain’s 2-2 draw against Morocco means Portugal finishes second in Group B and will face Group A champion Uruguay next on Saturday in Sochi. Spain wins the group, while Iran and Morocco are headed home.
Needing a win to advance, Iran made a bid to take the lead in the final moments, but Mehdi Taremi’s left-footed shot from inside the box sailed just wide and off the side of the net.
In stoppage time, Iran was awarded a penalty kick after a video assistant referee (VAR) review determined that Portugal’s Cédric Soares committed a handball in the box. In the 93rd minute, Iran’s Karim Ansarifard drilled the penalty into the upper right corner of the goal for the equalizer. Team Melli still needs one more.
Ronaldo receives a yellow card
In the 81st minute, the on-field referee went to VAR for a possible red card review of a foul involving Cristiano Ronaldo. Both of Fox’s announcers seemed to think the Portuguese forward dodged a bullet by receiving only a yellow card after elbowing Iran’s Morteza Pouraliganji in the face on the play in question.
Iran substitution: Ansarifard for Ezatolahi
Iran used its final substitution in the 76th minute, with Karim Ansarifard replacing Saeid Ezatolahi.
A chance for Iran
One minute after coming on as a substitute for Iran, Saman Ghoddos whipped a right-footed shot just wide of the goal. With 20 minutes to go, Iran needs the equalizer sooner rather than later.
Substitutions for both sides
In the 70th minute, Bernardo Silva replaced Ricardo Quaresma for Portugal and Saman Ghoddos replaced Alireza Jahanbakhsh for Team Melli.
Yellow card to Quaresma
A couple minutes after taking a hand to the face from Milad Mohammadi on a play that failed to draw a penalty, Portugal’s Ricardo Quaresma retaliated with a knee to the groin of the Iranian player. Quaresma was issued a yellow card for the incident in the 64th minute. “He didn’t get close to the ball,” Fox’s Ally Wagner said of Quaresma’s challenge as Mohammadi writhed in pain. “The soccer ball.”
Iran substitution: Mohammadi for Safi
Milad Mohammadi came on for Ehsan Haji Safi in the 56th minute.
Referees didn’t initially call a foul on Iran’s Saeid Ezatolahi after Cristiano Ronaldo was taken down inside the penalty box in the 50th minute, but a penalty kick was awarded to the Portuguese forward after a VAR review. Ronaldo drilled a shot toward the bottom right corer of the net, but Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand guessed correctly and made a huge save to keep Iran alive.
Halftime: Portugal 1, Iran 0
Portugal finally got a goal to show for its first-half dominance in the 45th minute on a perfectly placed shot by Ricardo Quaresma. Portugal, which outshot Iran, 9-3, in the first 45-plus minutes, needs a win or a draw to advance. Up 1-0, they’re halfway there. Team Melli, which almost certainly needs a win to reach the knockout round, can take heart in the fact that four of its last five goals in World Cup competition have come in the second half.
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Portugal struck first in the 45th minute on a beautiful strike from just outside the box by Ricardo Quaresma. The 34-year-old’s right-footed shot, which came off a give-and-go with Adrien Silva, eluded the grasp of Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand before dipping below the crossbar.
Yellow card to Portugal
Portugal’s Raphael Guerreiro received a yellow card in the 33rd minute for a hard tackle on Alireza Jahanbakhsh just outside the box. Iran’s Saeid Ezatolahi deflected Jahanbakhsh’s ensuing free kick on goal with a header, but Portugal’s Rui Patricio made the save to keep things scoreless.
That had to hurt
Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio hustled off his line in the 23rd minute to deny Team Melli a scoring chance. Patricio grabbed the ball just before Alireza Jahanbakhsh could strike it, but the Iran forward inadvertently made contact with Patricio’s head. Patricio remained in the game.
Miscommunication almost costs Iran
Portugal had a chance in the ninth minute when Iran defender Saeid Ezatolahi and goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand collided in front of the net. The ball deflected to Portugal’s João Mário, who drilled a shot over the crossbar. Ezatolahi and Beiranvand shared a few words and a shove after the play.
Team Melli shoots wide
Portugal has dominated possession in the first 10 minutes, but Iran generated a chance on a counterattack in the seventh minute. Alireza Jahanbakhsh sent a crossing pass to Vahid Amiri, but Amiri’s shot from just outside the box rolled wide of the goal.
An early chance for Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo, who became only the second player in World Cup history to score in the first five minutes of consecutive matches, made a bid for his fifth goal of the tournament in the third minute on Monday, but Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand made a relatively easy save on a shot from the left side of the box.
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