AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, Day 2: Epic Iberian Derby Drama
AGONAsport’s George Tsitsonis recaps the action from Day 2 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
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Egypt v Uruguay 0-1
A hard-fought match where Uruguay missed a host of chances. Egypt were well organized and looked to be heading toward a point, however Jose Gimenez popped up to head home an 89th-minute goal to give Uruguay a priceless 1-0 win.
Match Rating - 6: Tons of tension down the stretch for high marks for drama, but Uruguay only came alive toward the end and Egypt sorely missed the magic of Mohammed Salah.
Morocco v Iran 0-1
This match was a tight affair all afternoon with both teams having their moments, but full commitment on the defense on by each side keeping chances to a premium. Just as a 0-0 draw looked certain, a 95th minute own goal by Morocco’s Aziz Bouhaddouz gave Iran a priceless victory, only their second ever at a World Cup.
Match Rating - 6: Perhaps a higher score may seem warranted once again due to the late drama, but all in all both teams lacked quality in the final third. Some of the build-up play was neat, however the final pass or touch was missing.
What a thriller it was in Sochi. A match that purely had it all. Cristiano Ronaldo’s free-kick in the 88th minute secured his hat-trick and saved a point for Portugal after Spain had turned the match on its head. Portugal started the stronger side and were ahead after just four minutes when Ronaldo scored from the spot after having been fouled in the box. Diego Costa had Spain level 20 minutes later after good work in the box to finish past Rui Patricio.
Fernando Santos’ Portugal were back in front just before the half when David De Gea mishandled Ronaldo’s shot into the net. Two goals in three minutes just before the hour mark had Spain up 3-2 after Costa slid in from a yard out and Nacho Fernandez’s half volley smashed off the post and went in. There was one still act to play out however and Ronaldo, who hadn’t scored in over 45 previous free-kick attempts at a major tournament, beautifully curved his effort around the wall to make it 3-3.
Match Rating - 10: You can’t expect much more from a football match. Goals, comebacks, mistakes, and all around entertainment.
It was a big day for players and coaches with Greek club connections. Former Greek club and national team manager Fernando Santos of Portugal saw his side draw with Spain 3-3. Portugal defender Bruno Alves, who played for AEK at the start of his career, remained on the bench.
Former Aris manager Hector Cuper nearly saw his Egypt side snatch a draw against Uruguay. PAOK’s Amr Warda started for Egypt against Uruguay. The 24-year-old put forth a good performance and played for 82 minutes before being substituted.
In the Morocco-Iran match, all three Iranian players who currently play in Greece were in the starting line-up. Captain Masoud Shojaei (AEK), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiacos), and Ehsan Haji Safi (Olympiacos) all played in the victory over Morocco. Masoud came off after 68 minutes, while the Olympiacos duo both played the entire match. For Morocco, former Olympiacos players Manuel da Costa and Mehdi Carcela were unused substitutes.
GOAL OF THE DAY
Has to be Ronaldo’s free-kick Nacho’s goal for Spain was superb, but Ronaldo’s free-kick wins out. With pressure on, Ronaldo stepped up and delivered.
Suarez and Cavani missed chances
Uruguay late win thanks to goal by Atletico Madrid defender Gimenez
Cuper keeps Mo Salah on the bench versus Uruguay
Late own goal by Iran
De Gea mistakes
ON DECK FOR TOMORROW
Football fans across the world will be licking their chops at the prospect of four matches on Day 3.
France v Australia
It all kicks off with group favorites France and outsiders Australia in the early match beginning Group C action.
Argentina v Iceland
Argentina and Iceland meet following that first match as Lionel Messi takes the field for potentially his last World Cup. Meanwhile, Iceland will take the field for the first time ever at a World Cup.
Peru v Denmark
Peru and Denmark face off in a game many believe will decide second place in Group C.
Croatia v Nigeria
Finally, a Group D encounter pits Croatia against Nigeria in what should be an intriguing affair. Once again, this is another match expected to be a decider as to who goes through.