Postgame analysis: In the words of legendary philosopher Dr. Frankenstein, “It’s alive!”
Spain and Portugal treated fans to one of the best-ever World Cup games on just the second day of the 2018 tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo rightfully claims man-of-the match honors and further cements his place among legends with his hat-trick heroics. His third goal rescued Portugal and denied Spain an improbable come-from-behind victory.
Diego Costa scored twice for Spain in his own starring performance, and Nacho’s goal, which would have been the game-winner if not for Ronaldo’s free kick, undoubtedly will rank among the best strikes of Russia 2018.
Aside from the goals, the game was filled with tension and drama, with flowing passing moves, controversial refereeing decisions and technology emerging as major talking points. Gracias, Spain. Obrigado, Portugal. Thanks, soccer.
Spain and Portugal are tied for second place in Group B after one game. Spain will play group leader Iran and Portugal will take on Morocco on Wednesday in the teams’ second World Cup 2018 games.
That’s all for now, and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion coming up on NESN.com/soccer.
Final, 3-3: The referee blows the final whistle. Spain and Portugal draw and claim one point apiece.
90th minute +2, 3-3: Cristiano Ronaldo heads Ricardo Quaresma’s cross narrowly wide of Spain’s far post.
90th minute, 3-3: The fourth official indicates there will be four minutes of stoppage time in the second half. Never before has the world been so thankful for four minutes.
88th minute, 3-3: Cristiano Ronaldo restores parity with a perfectly struck free-kick goal.
After 45 unsuccessful attempts, Ronaldo finally scores from a direct free kick at a major international tournament, per Opta.
It’s Ronaldo’s world. We’re all just living in it.
86th minute, 3-2 Spain: Fernando Hierro makes Spain’s third, and final, substitution, replacing David Silva with Lucas Vazquez.
83rd minute, 3-2 Spain: Iago Aspas shoots directly at Rui Patricio, who saves the Spain striker’s effort with minimal fuss.
The heat in Sochi, Russia, — 75 degrees Fahrenheit/24 Celsius with 74 percent humidity at kickoff — appears to be taking a toll on players, who are struggling to match the intensity and speed they displayed earlier in the game.
80th minute, 3-2 Spain: Goncalo Guedes exits, and Andre Silva enters in Portugal’s third and final substitution.
77th minute, 3-2 Spain : Iago Aspas replaces Diego Costa as the spear-head of Spain’s attack.
71st minute, 3-2 Spain: Spain fullback Jordi Alba bombs up the left side and cuts a pass back to Costa, who scuffs his shot wide. Costa must do better if he wants that hat trick.
69th minute, 3-2 Spain: Portugal makes another personnel change, with Ricardo Quaresma replacing Bernardo Silva.
68th minute, 3-2 Spain: Spain counters with a substitution. Thiago Alcantara replaces Andres Iniesta.
This is Spain coach Fernando Hierro’s first major in-game decision. Let’s see what effect will the it have on this contest.
68th minute, 3-2 Spain: Portugal makes its first substitution, as Joao Mario replaces Bruno Fernandes.
66th minute, 3-2 Spain: Statistically speaking, something has to give.
58th minute, 3-2 Spain: Nacho fires Spain ahead with a rocket from 22 yards out. His shot hits the post and bounces into the goal. It’s his first goal for Spain.
Having given away a penalty kick in the first half, Nacho is having quite the eventful game.
55th minute, 2-2: Diego Costa ties the score for Spain … again.
David Silva floated a free kick to the far post, where Nacho headed a pass into the goal mouth. Costa, the Brazil-born battler, pounced first and scored.
46th minute, 2-1 Portugal: The second half is under way.
Halftime, 2-1 Portugal: The first half ends, allowing fans to catch their breath.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup has reached new heights as Portugal and Spain treat fans to a great game so far. Ronaldo has put his team in front with two goals. It must be the shoes, on which he inscribed the names of his children.
However, the score doesn’t reflect the balance of play. Spain started slowly but grew into the half with sharp passing and hard pressing. Yet, key moments are just as crucial, and Portugal has profited off the penalty kick Ronaldo drew and converted and de Gea’s goalkeeping blunder.
Spain has equaled Portugal technically, tactically and physically, but problems with its mentality already are emerging in Russia. Such an outcome is predictable following its coaching change on the eve of the World Cup.
45th minute, 2-1 Portugal: There will be only one minute of added time in the first half.
44th minute, 2-1 Portugal: Ronaldo restores Portugal’s lead with his second goal of the game.
Spain goalkeeper David de Gea, whom many consider the world’s best at his position, makes a terrible error in allowing the ball to slip through his hands into the goal.
Ronaldo already has passed his best goal scoring output for a single World Cup, according to Opta. He scored once at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 tournaments.
42nd minute, 1-1: Isco turns and shoots from the edge of Portugal’s penalty area, but his effort goes straight into the waiting arms of goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
35th minute, 1-1: Andres Iniesta shoots toward the far post from close range, but it rolls agonizingly wide.
Spain has seized control of the game after starting slowly.
28th minute, 1-1: The referee shows Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes a yellow card for his foul on Nacho. Portugal is reeling, and Spain is playing with a jolt of confidence.
26th minute, 1-1: Isco smashes a shot off the crossbar almost giving Spain the lead. Goal-line technology showed the ball came within centimeters of crossing the goal line.
24th minute, 1-1: Spain’s Diego Costa ties the score with a fine solo goal after dribbling around two defenders.
There was a question over if Costa fouled Portugal’s Pepe just before his dribbling display, but VAR concludes it wasn’t an obvious foul.
22nd, 1-0 Portugal: Silva dribbles dangerously along the end line but Portugal manages to clear his attempted centering pass out for a corner kick.
20th minute, 1-0 Portugal: Spain deservedly is trailing based on its struggle to establish a rhythm to its play. Portugal is showing good composure and executing on its apparent plan to contain Spain and counter-attack with menace.
17th minute, 1-0 Portugal: The referee shows Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets a yellow card for his foul on Portugal’s Goncalo Guedes.
10th minute, 1-0 Portugal: David Silva wastes a promising scoring chance, shooting over Portugal’s goal from 15 yards out.
Seventh minute, 1-0 Portugal: Ronaldo’s legend grows even larger.
Fourth minute, 1-0 Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo converts the penalty kick, and Portugal takes an early lead against Spain.
Third minute, 0-0: The referee awards a penalty after Cristiano Ronaldo appears to fall in Spain’s penalty area after contact with opposing defender Nacho.
VAR reviews the play and confirm the penalty-kick decision.
Kickoff: Portugal vs. Spain is under way.
1:20 p.m.: Here are the starting lineups and expected formations.
1 p.m. ET: The 2018 FIFA World Cup is about to blow.
The game everyone has been waiting for will take place Friday in Sochi, Russia, when Portugal takes on Spain. The Iberian rivals are expected to contend for Group B supremacy, and the result of this game should be pivotal in the final reckoning.
Spain’s firing of head coach Julen Lopetegui has raised infinite questions over its chances of meeting its sky-high World Cup expectations.
To add further intrigue, Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly agreed to a massive fine and suspended jail sentence Friday morning to settle his tax-evasion case with Spanish prosecutors.
The off-field drama with these teams has been crazy in the lead-up to the game. The on-field performance might be even better.
Portugal vs. Spain is scheduled to kick off at 2 p.m. Join us right here for all the action from Sochi.
Thumbnail photo via Leonel de Castro/ USA TODAY Sports Images
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