Ronaldo Shines, Uruguay Leave it Late, and Morocco Left in Agony

Friday was the first full day of World Cup 2018 in Russia as Groups A and B finished their first round of play.

Cristiano Ronaldo Shines Brightest

Cristiano Ronaldo’s three goals secured a point for Portugal in Sochi’s Fischt Stadium against Iberian rivals Spain. The entertaining 3-3 draw offered the highest quality in the tournament so far with Ronaldo and Nacho Fernandez (known as Nacho) providing the spark.

Nacho seemed to score the game-winner before the hour mark but Ronaldo completed his hat trick with two minutes left. His flawless free kick in the 88th minute curled past the wall and turned Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea into a spectator.

The Real Madrid forward opened the scoring in the 4th minute through a penalty kick that was then equalized by Diego Costa in the 24th minute. Spain would go on to dominate but an error by De Gea from a Ronaldo shot gave Portugal the lead.

Costa then scored his and Spain’s second after out-wrestling Portugal defender Pepe and defining past goalkeeper Rui Costa making it 2-2.

The draw means Group B is up for grabs for these two who have Morocco and Iran to deal with next.

Late Drama

Dark horse favorite Uruguay stumbled out of the gate and were made to struggle by Egypt in Ekaterinburg. The South Americans defeated Egypt 1-0 but took 89 minutes to unlock the Pharaohs’ defense.

Jose Maria Gimenez secured the win and an important three points following Russia’s 5-0 rout of Saudi Arabia on Thursday. Gimenez’s towering header was sent past Egyptian goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy, relieving La Celeste from a stressful post-game.

The Pharaohs were without leader Mohamed Salah who continues his rehabilitation from a shoulder injury picked up three weeks ago. The North African side were well organized and in control for most of the game but were left with nothing.

With two winnable games remaining and Salah set to return for the next one against Russia, the Pharaohs should feel fine about their chances of advancing.

Iran Steal it Late

In St. Petersburg, more last-minute goals followed as Morocco, which enjoyed two-thirds of possession against a defensive Iran, fell 1-0.

An own goal by Aziz Bouhaddouz in stoppage time left Morocco in agony. The Moroccans did all the hard work throughout the 90 minutes. They created the most chances and even scored the goal yet Iran (Team Melli) ran away with the three points.

With juggernauts Portugal and Spain in the same group, Morocco have probably seen the end of Russia 2018 already. With the victory Iran goes into its game against Spain needing a result to keep chances alive.