Ronaldo “Messied’ penalty as Portugal, Spain hit knockout

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Ronaldo: Pained for missing penalty against Iranians

Cristiano Ronaldo joined Argentine rival, Lionel Messi in missing a penalty kick for Portugal in the Russia FIFA World Cup.

Portugal playing hard-fighting Iran needed the goal at the Mordovia Arena to put the game beyond the reach of the Iranians after Ricardo Quaresma had given Portugal the lead in the 45th minute.

But Ronaldo played straight into the hands of the Iranian keeper,
Beiranvand who dived to his left to smother Ronaldo’s attempt.

As Raquel Branco, a FIFA journalist reported, everyone was expecting the net to rustle, but as Ronaldo failed to score a wave of noise burst from the stands.

The penalty Ronaldo missed

He became the fifth player to miss a penalty at this World Cup, one shy of the record of six, set at South Africa 2010.

His penalty, won after a video review, was also the 19th to be played at the tournament, more than the 13 played in the entire tournament four years ago in Brazil. The 19th mark also broke the record of 18 set at 1990, 1998 and 2002.

The net fails to rustle as Iranian keeper denies Ronaldo

The miss was to prove significant after Iran’s Karim Ansarifard’s late penalty dropped Portugal to second in Group B behind neighbours Spain.

Portugal will face Uruguay in Sochi on July 30 for a place in the quarter-finals.

“I think we did very well, we have achieved our goal and now we have to recover and think about the next match,” said Quaresma.

“We know the difficulties we’ll face, they’re a big team with very good players.”

It was a bad night for Ronaldo, as he escaped a red card after he caught the Iran defender with a forearm across the face. The defender, Pouraliganji fell to the ground in a heap. The referee went for a VAR review, for a possible red, but the Portugal forward ultimately escaped with a yellow card.

Spain, like Portugal are through to the knockout stage and will meet Russia.

They would probably had been on the exit lane, if Portugal had not held the Iranians.

Iago Aspas scored a VAR-assisted equaliser in injury time as Spain scrambled a 2-2 draw with Morocco on Monday in a dramatic finale to their Group B campaign.

Aspas’s winner, initially disallowed but awarded after intervention from the Video Assistant Referee, saw Spain stumbled into the last 16 as group winners.

Spain survived a real scare from a spirited Morocco side who had been leading 2-1 when the 90th minute began.

Aspas’ clever flick from a wide free kick was initially adjudged by the assistant referee to have been offside.

But after intervention from VAR it was given as a goal, much to the consternation of the Moroccan players and substitutes, some of whom stormed the pitch in protest.

Morocco coach Herve Renard said before the game his team, the first to be eliminated this tournament, had been victim to “total injustice” in their opening 1-0 losses.

The North Africans, who had yet to score a point or even a goal before Monday, started brightly, compact without the ball and breaking at speed.

Morocco took the lead on 14 minutes when Boutaib took advantage of a horrible mix-up between Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta to race through and slide the ball calmly through David De Gea’s legs.

Spain were level five minutes later when some crisp passing sent Iniesta free inside Morocco’s box. He cut back with the outside of his right boot to Isco, who fired into the roof of Monir El-Kajoui’s net from six yards.

The Real Madrid playmaker was at the heart of every Spain attack, caressing clever passes to teammates and weaving past wrong-footed defenders.

Boutaib missed a glorious chance to restore the advantage when he found Spain’s centre backs sleeping off a quick throw only to fluff the one-on-one with De Gea.

But La Roja should have gone in ahead at half-time, with Iniesta’s square pass missing Diego Costa’s outstretched right boot by millimetres from point blank.

Morocco sat back in the second period and invited Spain to try to break them down.

When they regained possession they broke with pace and purpose, and nearly took the lead after 55 minutes when Noureddine Amrabat’s right-foot scorcher from distance cannoned off the crossbar.

Isco’s header on the hour mark forced a goal-line clearance from Ghanem Saiss, chosen by Renard to start over captain Mehdi Benatia.

Morocco were aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty 10 minutes from time when the ball struck Pique’s fist in the area.

They weren’t complaining minutes later, however, when substitute Youssef En-Nesyri headed home the corner that followed to the rapture of the Moroccan supporters.

But Aspas’ late equaliser took some of the gloss of what had been a spirited and well-drilled performance.


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