Russia 2018: Five Things From Day Seven



  1. Atlas Lions Cower in Defeat: Just like North African neighbours, Egypt, Morocco have been eliminated from the competition after losing 0-1 to Portugal in the first game of day 7. Though they started strongly, a momentary lapse in concentration in the fourth minute was their undoing. A combination of wild finishing—most notably from skipper Mehdi Benatia and a classic performance from Rui Patricio in the Portugal goal ensured they could not find a way back into the game. The opposition held on to grab maximum points to leave them bottom of Group B, with zero points and no goals scored—I hope they grab one against Spain in their last game to erase their “spectator” status.
  2. Lacklustre Uruguay barely there: La Celeste took to the pitch against Saudi Arabia in the second Group A game of the competition. A team boasting of world-class hit men in Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani, their performance was disjointed at best, as they failed to put up a performance that was eye-catching. Saudi Arabia put in a decent shift compared to their 5-0 mauling by hosts, Russia, in the opening game of the tournament, but they fell to a Luis Suarez close-range goal in the 23rd minute, on his 100th appearance for his country to become the first Uruguayan player to score in three different editions of the World Cup (2010, 2014 & 2018). The result got the Arabs eliminated and sees the South Americans progress to the knockout stages of the competition.
  3. VAR breaks Iranian hearts: The last game of the day was a Group B clash between Spain and surprise group leaders after one round of games, Iran at the Kazan Arena. Spain needed a win to go top of the group ahead of Portugal, while Iran needed a point to achieve the same The Iranian defence did all it could to pursue its cause, but it succumbed to a lucky Diego Costa goal, nine minutes after the restart. Ten minutes later, Iran had the ball in the net, sparking wild celebrations among the players and the bench. However, much to their surprise, the referee announced he would be reviewing the goal with the VAR, and after a few nervous moments, he ruled it off for offside, to the disappointment of the Iranians as the Spaniards achieved their pre-match aim.
  4. Ronaldo, again: After his headline-grabbing heroics against Spain, the Portuguese star was determined to be in the news once again. His fourth-minute goal against Morocco was his 85th international goal, making him the highest scoring European in history surpassing Hungarian, Ferenc Puskas—the man whom the world best goal award is named after. He also becomes the first player to score five consecutive World Cup goals for his team since Oleg Salenko for Russia in 1994 (Cameroonians would never forget that one). Ronaldo has also become the first Portuguese player since José Torres in 1966 to score a goal with his right foot, left foot and head in a single World Cup tournament. He is now the highest goal scorer in this edition of the tournament, scoring all of Portugal’s four goals.
  5. A day of marginal victories: All three games of the day were victories with a 1-0 scoreline. This means there have been no 0-0 draws in any of the 20 games at the 2018 World Cup so far – the last time that this happened was in 1954. The only other days in World Cup history to see three 1-0 wins in a single day were June 25, 1982 (3) and June 23, 2010 (3).