The World Cup can’t deliver everyday unfortunately and yesterday was a bit of a bore.
Three games. Three 1-0 wins. Not a lot of action to recap.
Cristiano Ronaldo once again carried Portugal as the European Champions limped to a win over Morocco but a win they barely deserved.
Was there a push by Pepe, more on him later, at the near post to allow the ball to be met by Ronaldo’s bonce? Maybe, Herve Renard thought so. We know Ronaldo is magical but there are some quality players in this Portuguese side and they need to step-up and get out of this boring brand of football. Man City’s Bernardo Silva is yet to shine, while Joao Mario looked off the pace throughout yesterday’s game.
The performance was one similar to their Euro 2016 triumph, which was built on defensive shape and that proved the case in the Russian capital. They should have paid the price yesterday but got away with some sloppy finishing from Morocco and against better opposition they’ll be punished.
Morocco fell to defeat in the second game running but played some good football, once again ending up with the most possession.
Nordin Amrabat defied any sort of concussion protocol to play and chucked away the scrumcap he started the game in. He was Morocco’s liveliest player in truth giving Raphael Guerreiro a constant problem but the composure with the final ball was lacking. It would be harsh if they were to go home pointless but need to muster up more in the final third against Spain on Monday.
That’s the lesson Iran learned.
The euphoria of seemingly levelling against Spain was quickly turned to dismay as the assistant referee had his flag raised. The decision was correct in real time and checked by VAR, yet plenty of social media was left irate by the decision to disallow the goal, which was rightly chalked off – welcome to the romance of an underdog story!
In a game that it was easier to forget, a mention must go to Luis Suarez.
He became the seventh player to reach the 100 cap landmark for Uruguay and marked it with the winning goal meaning he’s now been directly involved in eight of Uruguay’s last 15 World Cup goals (six goals and two assists). The Barcelona forward also became the first Uruguayan to score in three different World Cups after scoring in South Africa 2010, Brazil four years ago and here in Russia.
The hospital in Moscow realised a statement confirming that after a thorough medical examination, Pepe was unharmed when patted on the back by Mehdi Benatia and that he should be fit to play against Iran. Embarrassing from the Portuguese ‘hard man’.