World Cup Today: VAR decisions add to the dramatic endings in Group B

It's one thing to have a World Cup group end with two games played simultaneously and the outcome of the group still up in the air until the very end.

Now add VAR being called at the same time at the end of both games .

That was the drama that unfolded in Group B on Monday night.

As the two games headed to stoppage time, Morocco led Spain, 2-1, and Portugal led Iran, 1-0. With those results, Portugal would have won the group, Spain would have finished second and Iran would have been eliminated along with Morocco, out after two games.

But the two VAR decisions changed everything.

In Saransk, Iran was awarded -- to the surprise of some -- a penalty kick for a handball by Cedric Soares, and Karim Ansarifard scored to make it 1-1. Portugal still led the group, but Team Melli was one goal closer to the win it needed to advance.

Over in Kaliningrad, Spaniard Iago Aspas' goal, waved off for offside, was confirmed after review, making the score 2-2. With the tie and its second goal, La Roja now moved ahead of Portugal for the lead in Group A on goals scored.

But the evening's drama wasn't over. With the winning goal all lined up, Iranian Mehdi Taremi fired his shot into the side-netting moments later. If Taremi's shot had gone in, Iran would have won the group, Spain would have finished second and Portugal would have been eliminated.

In the end, Spain finished first -- and will face host Russia in the round of 16 -- while Portugal took second and will meet Group A winner Uruguay in the next round.

What's next ...

June 30 Portugal (Runner-up Group B) vs. Uruguay (Winner Group A), in Sochi (2 pm ET, Fox, Telemundo)
July 1 Spain (Winner Group B) vs. Russia (Runner-up Group A), in Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow (10 am ET, Fox, Telemundo)

“The important thing is to think about the [next] match," said Portugal coach Fernando Santos, "to get to know your adversaries and then to get well prepared mentally and physically, regardless of it being Uruguay or the hosts. These are different circumstance, of course, the hosts have huge support and they’ve had a very good tournament, while Uruguay has high quality and top-notch players and they’re all excellent – but Portugal too. We have our weapons and we’re going to try to win.”

There are pluses and minuses to finishing first or second, given the round-of-16 opposition from Group A, so it's basically a wash for Spain and Portugal. But for Iran, so close to being through to the second round for the first time in five tries?

“I think Iran," said its Portuguese coach, Carlos Queiroz, "without any doubt, with the discipline, with the attitude, with the way we controlled the game, if there was some justice in football -- which doesn’t exist -- only one winner would have come out in this game. And that winner is Iran.

Group B ...

Friday, June 15

Iran 1 Morocco 0.
(Own goal 90+5. Att.: 62,548.)
Portugal 3 Spain 3.
(Cristiano Ronaldo pen. 4, 44, 88; Diego Costa 24, 55, Nacho 58. Att.: 43,866.)
Wednesday, June 20

1 Morocco 0.
(Cristiano Ronaldo 4. Att.: 78,011.)
Spain 1 Iran 0.
(Diego Costa 54. Att.: Att.: 42,718.)
Monday, June 25

Iran 1 Portugal 1.
(Ansarifard pen. 90+3; Quaresma 45. Att.: 41,685.)
Spain 2 Morocco 2.
(Isco 19, Iago Aspas 90+1; Boutaib 14, En-Nesyri 81. Att.: 33,973.)

1. Spain, 5 points (6-5)
2. Portugal
, 5 points (5-4)
3. Iran
, 4 points (2-2)
4. Morocco
, 1 point (2-4)
In parentheses is goal difference.

5 comments about "World Cup Today: VAR decisions add to the dramatic endings in Group B".
  1. beautiful game, June 26, 2018 at 12:07 a.m.

    The referees continue with their incompetence. Stepping on an opponents foot from behind in a deliberate fashion continues to be ignored as a cautionable offense and remains a conversation piece with the perp. All of a sudden the free kick scrums in the box are off limits to the thuggery that has been going on since 2014. FIFA leadership is a liability to the fair play rhetoric that FIFA manages to undermine at every opportunity with its no common sense dictums. VAR may have good points, but its current implementation and extended delays is a farce.

  2. Goal Goal, June 26, 2018 at 11:56 a.m.

    If it is going to be used which I am not in total agreement that it should it should be used only to determine a goal or no goal.  Did the round thing go over the line,

  3. Goal Goal, June 26, 2018 at 3:57 p.m.

    Watching these WC games is a treat.  To be able to see so much great football in a short period of time is great.

    However these officials and I blame FIFA are letting play get totally out of hand.  From the continual grabbing of jerseys, manhandling people in tight spaces, pushing, shoving etc etc.  They are ruining the game.  No doubt the game is a contact sport and no doubt when you have bodies running at each other you are going to have rough play but this game as I see it here is out of hand and I blame it on the officials.  I see no where in the rules where its okay to grab on to someone running by you with the ball because you cant catch up with them.  I dont see in the rules where its okay to wrestle for position on set plays, pushing shoving grabbing on.  The game is being ruined.  In my humble opinion.

  4. Miguel Dedo, June 26, 2018 at 6:33 p.m.

    France Denmark involved a lot of "body checks" not in playing distance of the ball that should have been penalized as holding.  Also several instances of jumping at an opponent in a dangerous manner - remembering that "at" in the laws is about direction not intent..  The match looked at times to be a hockey match.

  5. Kent James, June 27, 2018 at 12:33 a.m.

    VAR has worked as advertised, and helped referees get critical calls right. While there will always be judgments that can be controversial, letting the referee see replays and different angles so he can at least base his judgment on good evidence has greatly improved the refereeing.  And now they are even beginning to crack down on the clutching and grabbing in the box (though players need to figure out, as I think England to their credit did, that if BOTH players grab, the referee probably won't call it; but if only one player is grabbing, there's a decent chance it will be called (at least they have been getting better about this; the first few days were not good with regards to this).  

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