That’s it, the first week done and dusted. We’ve seen some excellent games and goals already, and there’s still plenty more to come in the next few weeks. The second day of second game fixtures saw some of the tournaments biggest attacking names take to our screens again, with Suarez, Cavani, Ronaldo and Costa.
Match 1: Portugal Vs. Morocco (1-0)
Well, you could have guessed it, that man again. Cristiano Ronaldo scored to book Morocco a seat on the flight home, despite their best efforts.
Contrary to what the scoreline suggests, the game was very entertaining, with a multitude of chances at both ends of the pitch. The Atlas Lions played some very good football throughout the game and caused Portugal problems again and again. their quick passing and pacey wingers made for good viewing as the game took place.
Portugal, however, gave as good as they got and Ronaldo was there to punish some sloppy defending after 4 minutes. They too played well with some good counter-attacking moves and an almost unplayable Ronaldo causing problems for the Moroccan defence.
Nordin Amrabat ran the Portuguese fullback ragged, as they created some great chances but lacked a clinical edge to their game. They were unlucky as new Wolves signing Rui Patricio pulled off a show-stopping one-handed save to deny Younes Belhanda off his head.
In the end, Morocco were unlucky not to get something from this game and will be seen as possibly the most unlucky team in the tournament. The way they have played during their 2 games in their first World Cup in 20 years, is not fairly represented by their 0 point tally. They will look to salvage something in their final game against Spain. No matter the result, they can go home with their heads held high as they produced some entertaining football in what has been a tough group.
Match 2: Uruguay Vs. Saudi Arabia (1-0)
A match that promised so much yet produced so little. A Saudi side that conceded 5 to the lowest ranked team in the tournament in a simply shocking display, managed to contain a team featuring two of the worlds most prolific strikers and in the end conceded only 1 goal. That can’t be right, can it?
Uruguay produced another drab display against the Arabians as they came away with a second consecutive clean sheet and all 3 points. The Saudis produced some flashes of good football on occasion going forward, they managed to create one or two chances but required more clinical finishing.
In the end, the Uruguayan central defensive partnership of Gimenez and Godin proved too much as they were organised and composed at the back. This is more than can be said for the Arabian back line that were at sixes and sevens at times, they had no defensive discipline whatsoever. A sloppy defensive error was finally capitalised upon by an eager Suarez who tapped home from close range after some calamitous defending.
As the game drew to a close, the Uruguayans slipped further and further into their own half and suck to hitting Saudi Arabia on the break, they were clearly happy to accept their 1-0 scoreline. Their opposition lacked any intensity and urgency in the closing stages which made it easier for the competent sky blue defence and midfield to retain possession and run down the clock.
In the end, Uruguay saw themselves through to the next round while the Saudis said goodbye.
Match 3: Spain Vs. Iran (1-0)
Again, a game that promised so much after Spain’s strong start against Portugal. Going into the game you would be forgiven for thinking Spain would be comfortable in this one. That, however, proved not to be the case as a sole Costa strike in the 54th minute saw a game closer than expected unfold.
Spain played their trademark football once again and were the better side in parts of the game. They often found themselves frustrated in an opening period in which they had 81% of possession. The Iranians put up a strong fight and were very good going forward, especially during the second half. they defended so strongly until the ball ricocheted in off Costa.
Saeid Ezatolahi’s side even drew level midway through the second half via his effort on goal, only for VAR to correctly rule offside. They definitely ramped up the tempo from then on and produced some golden chances that unfortunately went a miss. The best of these was a last-gasp header in added time that was fired over the bar after an excellent nutmeg and cross from the wideman.
The superb Andres Iniesta rolled back the years with some excellent play before going off for Athletico Madrid’s Koke towards the end of the game. The changes in midfield for the Spaniards gave them the edge over their more than worthy opponents. In the dying moments of the match as they were able to slow down play and control the tempo against an intense and high pressing Iran team that showed determination until the very end.
Spain now only require a draw against pointless Morocco in their final group B game in order to qualify for the knockout stages.
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