Well, that was fun. Portugal and Spain capped World Cup matchday 2 in a game that lived up to its billing, and then some. It was always going to be the premier contest of the group stage from the moment the draw was announced, and it didn’t disappoint. That came after late heroics in the Egypt/Uruguay match and a sickening loss for Morocco to Iran on an own goal.
Egypt 0-1 Uruguay
In Group A, Uruguay and Egypt nearly went scoreless the whole way until Jose Gimenez’ 89th minute marker helped his side slip past the Egyptians. It probably wasn’t that big of a surprise to most to see Mo Salah start the game on the bench, but he never saw the field in this one as questions about his fitness following his injury in the Champions League final continue to swirl. We’ll see what happens as they face Russia on Tuesday in Saint Petersburg in a must-win match for both sides. Uruguay can seal its spot in the knockout stage with a win against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in Rostov.
Group A Standings
Morocco 0-1 Iran
Over in Group B, Morocco and Iran squared off in Saint Petersburg on a day that the Moroccan side will look back on in disappointment if they can’t advance out of the group. A stoppage time own goal conceded by Aziz Bouhaddouz was the only goal scored in this one. It’s always tough to give up an own goal at any stage, but to do it on the biggest stage of the sport is beyond gut-wrenching.
Afterward, we saw a tremendous moment of class from an Iranian player on Instagram:
@aziz_bouhaddouz I don’t know you personally but in life, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Don’t let this owngoal bring you down. We are all professional sportsmen and this is a part of football. I am so happy and proud of my team and my country, but wanted to wish you also all the best in your career. Reza.
Morocco will have to carry that with them as they play Portugal on Wednesday in Moscow. Iran play Spain later that day in Kazan and could really turn the group upside down if it can grab a result.
Portugal 3-3 Spain
If those first two games were appetizers, then Portugal/Spain in Sochi was the main course. In what could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final World Cup and a last chance at hoisting the big trophy, he made an early mark on the tournament with a hat trick that included a fourth-minute penalty and a brilliant 88th minute free kick to deny La Roja all three points and a chance to top the group.
This guy’s pretty good.
It actually helped Iran as they’re at the top of the table as the only team that won its opening match of the group. But that probably won’t last past Wednesday, so best for them to soak it in now, I guess.
Group B Standings