Cristiano Ronaldo runs day two at the World Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Portugal and Spain drew 3-3 at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi. The Real Madrid winger stole the show with a late equaliser in day 2 of the World Cup, which saw 3 important late goals.

 

The first game of the day saw Egypt take on Uruguay. Uruguay have won the tournament on two occasions and big things are expected of them this year but they produced a lacklustre performance against Egypt. Mohamed Salah was an unused substitute in the game as he clearly still hasn’t recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained in the Champions League final against Real Madrid. 

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In a game of few chances, Uruguay had the best opportunities of the game. Luis Suarez had a great chance in the first half but hit the side netting when he really should have scored, which most the world thought he did. 

 

Edison Cavani forced the Egyptian keeper, El Shanawy, to make an incredible one-handed save in the second half. The PSG record goalscorer had another chance late on from a free-kick 25 yards out. The Uruguayan struck the free-kick superbly but it was kept out by the post. But there was still time to break Egyptian hearts, Atletico Madrid’s Jimenez won a free-kick deep into second half stoppage time. Substitute Carlos Sanchez stood over it and picked out Gimenez who produced a perfect header to beat El-Shanawy and leave the Egyptians gutted. 

 

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The second game of day two provided a game where the wives would say ‘but it’s only Morocco against Iran.’ But Morocco and Iran have potential to be darkhorses. In a group with Spain and Portugal, Morocco and Iran both saw the game as a ‘must-win.’

 

Morocco hadn’t conceded a goal in qualifying and Iran had only conceded 5 goals in 18 games. Morocco started strongly;they put out an attacking line up and caused Iran issues early on. Iran defended well putting their bodies on the line in a scramble inside the box, which somehow stayed out. 

 

The closer it got to half-time, the more Iran came into the game. Their fast counter-attacking style was causing Morocco issues and Iran should have scored before the break, but for the Moroccan goalkeeper, Mohamendi. 

 

The second half was extremely lacklustre and seemed like a friendly game, marred with several injuries. Morocco had a chance to win it late on but Ziyech’s strike was denied by Iranian goalkeeper Bieranvand. 

 

But Iran managed to win the game without a single shot in the second half with a 95th minute goal. Morocco’s Bouhaddouz headed a free-kick into his own net to win the game for Iran: their first win at a World Cup since 1988 and ending a bad week for Moroccan football as they missed out on hosting World Cup 2026 earlier on in the week.

 

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The final game of the evening saw the 2010 winners Spain face European Champions Portugal in Sochi. Portugal started brightly and won a penalty in the first 5 minutes when Real Madrid’s Nacho brought down Ronaldo. CR7, who had been in the headlines during the day for the wrong reasons, sent De Gea the wrong way and put the Euro 2016 Champions ahead. 

 

It had been a tough week for the Spanish national side after new Real Madrid manager, Julan Lopetegui was sacked by Spain just a day before the World Cup began. Some feared that this would derail Spain’s World Cup campaign but it didn’t seem to affect their performance this evening. They were level in the 24th minute thanks to a superb solo goal by Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa. After Spain’s equaliser, the 2010 winners had a strong spell. Isco thought he’d scored a wondergoal but was denied by the crossbar. 

 

However, as the first half came to a close, Portugal went ahead for the second time in the game. Ronaldo hit a speculative shot from outside the area which was fumbled by Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea into the back of the Spanish net.

 

Spain came out strongly for the second half and Diego Costa managed to grab an equaliser for a second time in the game. A David Silva free-kick was met by the head of Sergio Busquets who squared it to Costa and the former Chelsea striker made no mistake to make it 2-2.

 

Three minutes later Nacho, who conceded the penalty in the early stages of the match put Spain ahead for the first time in the game. The Spanish defender struck a thunderous volley from the edge of the area off both posts and past Rui Patricioto to make it 3-2, and in so redeeming himself for his earlier mistake. 

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As the game started to come to a close, Spain seemed happy to see the game out and Ronaldo became frustrated. With two minutes left on the clock, Portugal had a free-kick. Ronaldo had missed his last 44 free-kicks in major tournaments but stood over this one. The Portuguese captain struck the free-kick perfectly over the wall and into the back of the net. Ronaldo’s 51st career hat-trick and the 51st hat-trick in a World Cup, almost as if it was written in the stars for CR7 who had only scored one goal in each of the previous three World Cups. 

 

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It was an eventful day for Ronaldo, who received a two year suspended prison sentence in the afternoon before scoring a hat-trick against Spain in the evening. Football: it’s a funny old game.

 

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