For the second time after the eighth finals of South Africa 2010, where a goal from David Villa had offered victory to Spain, the neighbors of the Iberian Peninsula had an appointment for the World Cup. This time, in the 2018 Russian group stage, the two teams produced a crazy match, with a hat-trick by Cristiano Ronaldo at the height of his art, two returns to the Spanish and a draw to conclude the ‘one of the most beautiful confrontations of the tournament.
???? In short
Portugal 3-3 Spain
June 15, 2018 | Fisht Stadium, Sochi
Portugal (Ronaldo, 4 ‘pen, 44’, 88 ‘) | Spain (Diego Costa 24 ‘, 55’; Nacho 58 ‘).
- Portugal: Rui Patricio, R. Guerreiro, J. Fonte, Pepe, Cedric, Moutinho, W. Carvalho, B. Fernandes (Joao Mario 68 ‘), Guedes (Andre Silva 80’), B. Silva (Quaresma 69 ‘), C. Ronaldo.
- Spain: David de Gea, J. Alba, Ramos, Piqué, Nacho, Koke, Busquets, Iniesta (Thiago 70 ‘), Isco, D. Silva (L. Vázquez 86’), D. Costa (Aspas 77 ‘).
### ???? The context
For both teams, this is the first match in Group B of Russia 2018. Portugal obtained its qualification for the World Cup through the play-offs, after being European champion two years earlier. As for Spain, after the Brazil 2014 fiasco, it is in the midst of reconstruction. She got her ticket to Russia without shaking and the team seems to be holding on, but 48 hours before the start of the tournament, her coach Julen Lopetegui is dismissed and replaced by Fernando Hierro, until then sports director of the Roja.
⚔️ The keys to the match
- Success: on 8 strikes, Portugal scored 3, all victories thanks to a Ronaldo very inspired. Effective on set kicks (he scored the first goal on penalty and the third on a free kick), he took advantage of a De Gea ill advised to register the second.
- Resilience: the Spaniards returned twice to the score. Portugal opened the scoring on a penalty conceded by Nacho and converted by Ronaldo. Diego Costa equalized after mystifying the Portuguese defense, before Ronaldo gave the Lusitanians the advantage shortly before the break. After the resumption, Costa then Nacho, on a spectacular half-volley, allow Spain to take the lead, but a fault of Dive will give the Portuguese number 7 an opportunity to equalize, thus punctuating a perfect evening on an individual level.
- Possession and counterattacks: true to its style, Spain had 61% possession and knew how to use the ball, in the form of long periods of domination. Portugal, for its part, has hurt the Roja by its cons: with recovery Moutinho and William Carvalho, the players of Fernando Santos created danger thanks to the speed of Ronaldo and of Gonçalo Guedes and the technical skill of Bernardo Silva and of Bruno Fernandes.
???? A player in the match
Cristiano Ronaldo started its fourth World Cup with the best performance in its history in the event. The captain of Portugal carried his team at arm’s length, scoring a hat-trick which allowed his team to take a point against Spain. Beyond her hat-trick, it should be noted that it has hit 3 times in 4 attempts, also participating in the construction of the game and showing itself constantly dangerous by its overflows on the Lusitanian counters.
He thus became the third Portuguese to register a hat-trick in the World Cup after Eusebio (1966) and Pauleta (2002).
“I’m lucky that Cristiano is Portuguese, because he’s the best player in the world by his physical power, by his extraordinary technique and especially by his mental strength. He was the one who pulled the team when we were scored. ” – Fernando Santos, Portuguese coach
“I must be very proud of the boys, of the way we looked up when things were not going our way and of having won twice after being led. We showed character, dedication, pride and personality. This team is mature. ” – Fernando Hierro, Spanish coach
???? And after ?
In this Group B, Spain and Portugal qualified, finishing first and second respectively. This order in the ranking was decided at the end of a final day of twists and turns, with the draw conceded by Portugal against RI Iran, after leading the scoring. In the other match, an Iago Aspas goal in the 91st minute allowed the Roja to share the points with Morocco.
The two teams left the competition at the knockout stage: Spain bowed on penalties against Russia (1-1, 3-4 TAB), host of the competition, while Uruguay have gained the upper hand over Portugal (2-1).