It was a dramatic finish to Group B, as Iran punched above their weight to almost sucker punch Portugal out of the World Cup late on. However, the Portuguese held on and did just enough to make it to the next round. Earlier Ricardo Quaresma had given Portugal the lead with a trademark Trivela.

Portugal vs Iran – 25/6/2018

Match Report

Vinod with his debut piece for El Arte Del Futbol.

Nobody can describe what just happened at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk. Some incidents were magic. Some moments and calls were so ludicrous, you’d think it was Trump making the decisions! (It’s happening in Russia and Trump is a friend here!)

Portugal went into this game knowing that a point would be enough to see them through to the knockout stages whereas the Asian team were in desperate need of all three points to get into the Knockout stages for the first time in 5 World Cup appearances.

Barring a prolific and hungry Cristiano Ronaldo, who had been Portugal’s talisman, Team Portugal had been rather poor in both their outings so far. Being dominated in possession by Spain was no surprise but being outshot and hung to dry by Morocco surely gave Fernando Santos a headache ahead of this game and he would have wanted to see more from the rest of the squad.


Portugal decided to bring in AC Milan striker Andre Silva, Leicester midfielder Adrien Silva and the ageing Magician, Ricardo Quaresma in place of underperforming trio Goncalo Guedes, Bernardo Silva and Joao Moutinho. Iran made the solitary change drafting Alireza Jahanbakhsh back into the XI for Karim Ansarifard.

Iran started the game brightly, managing to stifle Portugal off the ball quite a few times and breaking away but apart from a solitary chance that fell to Sardar Azmoun, they sat back in two banks of 4 and 5 and denied Portugal space to play through the middle. The much-travelled Portuguese magician, Ricardo Quaresma was however determined to make an impression on his World Cup debut. The 34-year-old winger was constantly giving Iranian Left-Back, Ehsan Hajsafi a torrid time down the right side of attack and tested the Iran goalkeeper with a few teasing crosses, which despite some shoddy effort, Iran managed to scramble away.

Quaresma when in form makes you wonder what could have been had he fulfilled his potential. The eccentric man suddenly decided he’d try to score tonight, but only courtesy a filthy finish. He tried it once and it didn’t come off but the second time around, it worked! The goal that he scored tonight was an outrageous trivela. Outside of the boot fired into the far post top corner from outside of the box. You just couldn’t have written that script any better!

Iran had a decent half and might have felt undone conceding right before halftime. Maybe they didn’t deserve to be losing at halftime. But Iran needed to answer and needed to come out blazing in the second half. They did. They needed to score at least two and not concede. Well, they did that as well. Almost!

Ricardo Quaresma Trivela Tutorial

If someone decided to skip the second half on the basis of the first, then they surely missed out on a lot of drama, a rare Cristiano Ronaldo penalty miss, plenty of dubious decisions from the referee, a late equalizer for the underdog, a miss in additional time that could have sent Portugal home – and much more.

Almost immediately after the second half kicked off, referee Enrique Caceres took the help of VAR to award Portugal a penalty and with that an opportunity to seal the deal. But a rare poorly executed penalty from Cristiano was well judged and kept out by Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand. Not high enough and hit with less power than usual by Ronaldo!

A day keeper Beiranvand will remember for the rest of his life.

Carlos Queiroz then decided to throw in all he had at Portugal to try and sneak out a goal as Iran pressed hard at the Portugal defence. In another intervention of VAR, a foul by Ronaldo was investigated for being a possible red card, but the Portuguese forward was given a yellow card. Lucky escape?

Football can at times be cruel. Just when things don’t go your way, sometimes it becomes worse. A soft penalty decision given, yet again derived after VAR – this time to Iran. Substitute Karim Ansarifard stepped up and calmly converted the penalty past Rui Patricio

Karim Ansarifard celebrates after scoring the Penalty

Portugal held on despite a late surge by Iran where they could have won it! The ball deflected to Taremi inside the area, and he sent his shot into the side netting! He should have scored but the game ended 1-1 as Portugal finish second behind Spain, who drew against Morocco and will now play Uruguay next on Saturday in Sochi in the Round of 16.

The result sends Iran home alongside Morocco, two teams who have given a brilliant account of themselves and pushed the former World Champions and the current Euro Champions, and given them a run for their money. Unlucky!

EADF Tip: The referee might need to check his eyes for issues related to vision, and also brush up his knowledge from the FIFA Rulebook once. Brownie Points, however, for running 90+ mins with HAIR STILL PERFECT. Mikel Arteta likes this!

Feature Image via Squawka 

Karim Ansarifard image via Guim.co.uk

Ronaldo Penalty Image via Guim.co.uk

More World Cup Content here.


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