World Cup Daily: Ronaldo to the rescue, Spain survive Iran scare

Author
Jason Pine,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 21 June 2018, 9:59AM
Upsets continue as the Fifa world cup rolls on.
Upsets continue as the Fifa world cup rolls on.

Jason Pine provides all you need to know about this morning's World Cup games.

What happened overnight?

The first teams were confirmed in the round of 16, with Uruguay notching a second consecutive 1-0 win, easing past Saudi Arabia, who remain goal-less and pointless after two outings.

That result also saw Russia advance, with the hosts and Uruguay to meet on Tuesday morning to decide who tops Group A.

In Group B, Portugal chalked up their first win of the tournament, beating Morocco 1-0, while Spain earned the third 1-0 victory of the day over Iran. 

Heroes

Cristiano Ronaldo was again Portugal's main man, scoring an early goal which eventually saw the Euro 2016 champions claim all three points.

He has now scored Portugal's last five World Cup goals, while his bullet header in the fourth minute was his 85th goal for his country, meaning he is now Europe's all-time leading male goalscorer.

In 1986, Diego Maradona almost single-handedly dragged Argentina to the top of the podium; early in the 2018 edition, Portugal's talisman is well on his way to doing the same. 

Meantime, in his 100th game for Uruguay, Luis Suarez was his side's saviour, sweeping home his first goal of the tournament from close range to send the South Americans through to the last 16.  

Villains

Once again Saudi Arabia choked on the big stage.

Having not qualified for the last two World Cups, they have again failed to make it out of their group, just as they did in 1998, 2002 and 2006.

The Saudis have now lost 10 and drawn two of their last 12 World Cup games, failing to score in nine of those matches.

They said what?

Portugal coach Fernando Santos: “Cristiano is like a Port wine. He knows how to refine his capacity and age at his best. He is constantly evolving, contradictorily to the other players. He knows himself and he knows what he can do. What he does now is not what he did three or four years ago, and not what he will be doing in a few years from now.”

Stat chat

After scoring 13 successive goals from open play at the World Cup, three of Portugal's four goals at this tournament have come from set-pieces.

Uruguay's back-to-back wins mark the first time in 64 years they've won their opening two matches at a World Cup.

Every game at this World Cup has had at least one goal, but no team has yet come from behind to win a match.

Did you know?

New Zealand referee Matt Conger will see his first action of the World Cup on Saturday morning when he controls the Group D clash between Nigeria and Iceland in Volgograd.

Conger will be assisted by fellow kiwi Simon Lount and Tongan Tevita Makasini.

What’s next?

Australia look to bounce back from their first up loss to France when they play Denmark at midnight (NZT) tonight.

Peru also go looking for their first points when they meet the French at 3am.

At 6am, Argentina take on Croatia in Group D.

 

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