Iran curses VAR as Ronaldo’s penalty miss could not propel them to next round
Group B was tipped to be the Group of Death, and what a group this has been. Spain, Portugal, Iran, and Morocco were right at it until the last whistle. Morocco fell out of contention following losses to Iran and Portugal, but they gave Spain a scare of their life as they led 2-1 till 85th minute, which could have led to an early exit for Spain.
Portugal led by their talisman Ronaldo started to find it hard to breach Iran’s formation, but it was Quaresma’strivela that stole the show. He sent an absolute screamer to send Portugal 1-0 at half time, meaning they would face Russia at the next round. In the second half, Ronaldo showed his trickery but was halted inside the penalty area. Referee waved play on initially but was consulted by the VAR team and then he revised his decision to award them a spot kick. Stepped Ronaldo, but his shot was saved by Alireza heroically. This gave Iran hope and they piled on pressure. In the 80th minute an off the ball incident saw Ronaldo flinging his arm at an Iranian player. Again, referee waved play on but was asked to have a second look at it. Interestingly, he showed Ronaldo a yellow card only.
Iran upped the ante and a fairly decent delivery struck the hands of Cedric, and again VAR was consulted after being waved to play on. Ansarifard stepped up and kept his composure. Iran could have won the match at the dying seconds and send Portugal out of the World Cup, but Mehdi Taremi struck the wrong side of the net. This mean Queiroz’s side could not qualify, but their performance has shown how compact and well drilled they are, and can certainly vie their chances in Qatar in 2022.
Ronaldo yellow card leaves everyone irate
Chris Sutton was fairly expressive in his views against the yellow card case involving Ronaldo. He said that the referee bottled and could not send off one of the best in the World. Further, he added that the ref could have easily given a red to any other player, but he bottled it. It has caused debate as fouls which are deemed to be illegal can only be reviewed by VAR, and the possible outcome can be guilty and not guilty. The price to pay for being guilty is a straight red, and seeing the referee spotted the infringement, Ronaldo should have been given a red, by FIFA regulations. This could have meant Iran up against a 10-man Portugal who looked shaky defensively.
Argentina face Nigeria in a now or never match
More than Messi’s legacy, it is Argentina’s glorious history at line as they face Nigeria in a humdinger which could decide who would join Croatia from Group D in the round of 16. Argentina drew level against Iceland, before suffering an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Croats. Messi and Co. will now look to redeem themselves, but they have to win as a draw could only ravage them deeper in their misery.
Nigeria will look to play for a draw, but their direct football has attracted praise and the form of Ndidi and Ahmed Musa will be a concern for a fragile Argentine midfield and defence.