World Cup Today: An instant Iberico classic

Spain and Portugal are two of the great teams of the 21st century.

They have won last three European Championships, and Spain captured the 2010 World Cup title. But their meetings have often fallen flat. Since 2004, they had met three times in major competitions before Friday night and the games produced a combined two goals.

Both teams surpassed that in Sochi, where they played to a 3-3 tie that fans will be talking about for years.

Spain twice came back from a goal down and took a 3-2 lead in the second half only to have Cristiano Ronaldo equalize on a free kick in the 88th minute with his third goal of the game. The hat trick was his first ever at the World Cup and matched his goal production in his first 13 games over three World Cups.

"I'm very happy," Ronaldo said. "it's my first hat trick at a World Cup. We've drawn with one of the favorites to win the World Cup."

Spain is one of the favorites but it came into the game in turmoil following the firing of head coach Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday. Nerves were evident as Nacho, a replacement at right back for his injured Real Madrid teammate Daniel Carvajal, fouled Ronaldo in the area for a penalty in the fourth minute. Right before halftime, goalkeeper David de Gea let Ronaldo's shot slip through his hands.

Fernando Hierro, Lopetegui's replacement, backed de Gea after his howler.

"We are a team," said the new Spain coach, "and know that there are players who have had better days. We are a family and we are a team. We won't leave anyone abandoned from the team."

What Hierro liked was how Spain came back to take the lead.

"It makes you happy when you have players like this, with personality and quality," he said. "They don't have any doubt about what they want. Coming back from behind twice is very important."

Diego Costa scored the first two Spain goals, and Nacho made up for his error with the third goal, a fierce side-volley from distance off the far post.

"I think we deserved to win," said Diego Costa, who had his best game in five years with Spain. "We created a lot more and had more of the ball. We equalized twice but we couldn't get the win at the end."
1 comment about "World Cup Today: An instant Iberico classic".
  1. frank schoon, June 16, 2018 at 11:28 a.m.

    This was the best game sofar and the only team that I see ,sofar, that is of world cup caliber and shows it, after having seen 5 games  is SPAIN. Portugal would not even be there without Ronaldo. Portugal didn't show me anything. I've finally come to the conclusion that Ronaldo is  better than Messi. Messi, without Barcelona, would not have been the player he is known as ,and for as long as Messi has played with Argentinian NT, he's basically has been a dissappointing Messi.
    He's obviously is a great player and able to dribble the ball and touch it 4x in two yards distance and change direction in small spaces. Ronaldo needs just a little more space than Messi. But Ronaldo  can head and shoot hard shots with either leg outside the penalty, beat opponents, he has a drive and a FIRE IN THE BELLY that Messi lacks. Ronaldo is man out there as Messi is still a boy....
    Spain is a joy to watch and play soccer. Portugal is unable to knock the ball around like Spain. They are slower and lack offensive imagination.  Besides Ronaldo , I like Quaresma who is a little old but if you want to see a street savvy soccer player there is no one better...He reminds me of the 70's generation type of player, soooo technically smart.
    Notice how Ronaldo scored that 3rd goal , how the ball dips. He executed by swinging the leg as hard as possible and at last moment he held back and kicked the ball using the inside of the instep....

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