Spain and Portugal both secured progression to the knockout stages despite failing to win their final Group B World Cup fixtures.
Portugal came up against Iran, while Spain faced Morocco with both sides knowing that they only required a point to secure qualification for the knockout stage.
Spain dominated the early proceedings in their match, but a mix-up between Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos on the halfway line allowed Khalid Boutaib a free run at David de Gea in the Spain goal. The forward kept his composure and slipped the ball through De Gea’s legs, giving Morocco an unlikely lead with just 14 minutes played.
It did not take Spain long to hit back. A typical Spanish move saw the ball knocked around with pace and it eventually found Isco inside the six-yard box, where the Real Madrid man managed to finish the move expertly by smashing his shot into the roof of the net.
Against the run of play, Morocco took the lead again. Faycal Fajr whipped in a beautiful ball from a corner and substitute Youssef En-Nesyri rose highest to power an unstoppable header into the top-left corner nine minutes before full time.
La Roja refused to lie down and grabbed their second equaliser in added time. Daniel Carvajal’s cross was finished off by Iago Aspas to send Spain into the last 16.
A tight first half between Portugal and Iran saw both teams threaten, but neither could find the back of the net. That was until the stroke of half-time when Ricardo Quaresma made a run inside, received the ball and spectacularly curled it with the outside of his boot beyond the keeper and into the top corner to give Portugal the lead.
Fernando Santos’ team had the perfect opportunity to double their lead when Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded a penalty after a VAR review at the start of the second half. The Portuguese captain, however, had his spot-kick brilliantly saved by Alireza Belianvand.
Ronaldo then survived a VAR review for a possible red card for an elbow; the referee eventually decided that a yellow card was punishment enough.
Portugal were not so lucky the second time round as a second VAR review, this time for a Cedric Soares handball, saw Iran get the decision and a penalty was awarded. Karim Ansarifard stepped up to convert for his side and make the scores level.
Carlos Quiervos’ team had a late chance to win the game, but Portugal held on to secure progression to the round of 16.
Spain finish top of Group B on goals scored and will face Russia in the next round, where Portugal will come up against Uruguay.
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