Friday’s action concludes with a certified banger, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal make their debut against Andres Iniesta and Spain.
Spain vs. Portugal Highlights
Ronaldo Puts Portugal Ahead Early
Ronaldo took a foul after just three minutes and change, giving Portugal an incredible opportunity before Spain even really had possession.
Costa’s Individual Effort Ties Score
Diego Costa is going to need goals if Spain are going to contest in this tournament, and his first real effort was nothing short of spectacular. Costa took the ball at the top of the box, faked out two Portuguese defenders and fired a laser past Patricia for the equalizer.
Ronaldo’s Brace Puts Portugal Back Ahead
Spain dominated possession in the first half, but Portugal were able to strike back on the counter. After a long ball from the back, Ronaldo sprinted onside and found the ball at his feet just outside the box. He blasted a low shot to the left corner, and the ball trickled through the hands of David de Gea.
Costa Grabs Another From Close-Range
The stars are out for Spain and Portugal, as both goal-scoring machines are getting the job done. After a hard foul in the opposing third, Spain executed a flawless set piece to give Costa a chance from point-blank range.
Nachos Screamer Puts Spain Ahead
Nacho’s first international goal is an absolute beauty, swerving away from the keeper and banging off the left post and in. It’s a possible candidate for goal of the tournament.
Ronaldo Becomes Oldest Player With Hat Trick in World Cup History
Portugal looked gassed in the final minutes, as Spain dominated passing and possession. But when Portugal drew a free kick just outside the box, and Ronaldo hiked his pants up to his thighs, there was little doubt as to where that ball was going.
There we are. 3-3 final. Best match of the World Cup, and it comes on the first full day of action.
Spain vs. Portugal Preview
This match is already a massive meeting between two top teams, but Spain ratcheted up the drama by sacking their manager just days before the tournament. Now Fernando Hierro must make his international managing debut at the World Cup against the European champions.
Where Hierro will be most closely scrutinized is in his substitutions. The previous manager, Julen Lopetegui, did an outstanding job of mixing in exciting youth talent with the experience of Spain.
While it was reported that the Spanish players were not happy with the decision, defender Sergio Ramos has come out in public support for his new maanger.
“We needed to move forward as quickly as possible,” he told reporters on Thursday. “These were not pleasant times. Julen Lopetegui helped us qualify. He played a major part for us.
“But the sooner we focus on the World Cup, the better for all of us. There are few people more qualified than Fernando to cover after Lopetegui’s departure. We’ve all admired him as a player for a long time. So he’s the perfect candidate to cover this post.”
Its a fourth trip to the World Cup for Cristiano Ronaldo, but Portugals odds have never been better. Portugal has always been seen as an outside threat to soccer pundits, but their run at Euro proved they can contend at every level. Ronaldo gets the flashbulbs, but the real stars are ironclad center backs Pepe and Bruno Alves. Portugal intend to keep the scoreline clean in every match, then blow some Ronaldo fairy dust on the pitch and steal the result.
Spain are not entirely diffferent, but theyve been as good on the ball as anyone in the international game. Spains biggest problem has been producing goals, and in Russia that role will fall to target man Diego Costa.
While they have over 30 meetings in their history, this will be only the fifth World Cup fixture for these teams. It’s always been a tense affair, as the four games have combined to produce four goals.
All in all, don’t expect either team to push the envelope in this matchup. With Morocco and Iran in the group, Spain and Portugal have overwhelmingly favorable odds to reach the next stage. Friday may be exciting for fans, but for the teams, it’s about getting a good result while staying healthy for the rest of the tournament.
Spain are the slight betting favorite, with the total set at two goals.