The opening match for both teams, the first hattrick of the 2018 World Cup, and a thriller 3-3 draw at full-time to perfectly round off an amazing evening in Sochi. As a Football fan, this opening showdown between Spain and Portugal had everything you’d hope for from the FIFA World Cup and this match definitely did not fail to live up to our expectations.
Earlier today at The Fisht Stadium, football fans around the entire world were treated to an absolutely delightful opening match by two of World’s most standout teams in Spain and Portugal, who kicked started their 2018 World Cup campaign in tremendous fashion following a 3-3 draw in the Group B opener on Friday night.
Heading into this match, Spain had already fired their former-unbeaten coach Julen Lopetegui just two days ago and the fact that the La Roja came into this contest with a new head coach in Fernando Hierro added an extra bit of spice to proceedings.
The much-anticipated clash between Spain and Portugal was arguably the best match of the group stage so far and it apparently seems like that no other group stage match will be able to top this one for the time being.
Portugal started off this Group B heavyweight showdown with an early goal thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 4th minute penalty conversion from the spot which gave Portugal the 1-0 lead, but after playing on the backfoot for a while, Spain finally made their way back into the match when they equalized via Diego Costa, who scored one of the best goals fans will ever witness in this year’s 2018 World Cup, after beating five different Portuguese defenders inside the box, in order to score past Rui Patricio.
However, right before the end of the first half, Ronaldo regained the lead for Portugal, as his long-range shot went right under the grasp of David De Gea as Portugal headed into the break leading via a scoreline of 2-1.
Regardless of that, the Spaniards were still pretty high on morale and their unparallel confidence eventually paid off when they scored a delightful goal via Diego Costa, following a smooth free kick from Iniesta and Koke. Costa’s second goal of the match was eventually converted into the third goal of the evening for Spain, who then took the lead for the very first time in the match, as Nacho fired in a thunderous shot from 22 yards out and gave Spain the 3-2 lead.
But, it was non-other than Cristiano Ronaldo who had the final laugh of the evening, as The Real Madrid frontman tucked in a beautiful looking freekick to complete his hattrick and Portugal’s comeback into this contest.
Positives for Portugal:
Portugal’s current attack is definitely the key factor to their success in this year’s FIFA World Cup and with Cristiano Ronaldo opening his 2018 World Cup account with a hattrick, we can certainly expect fireworks from CR7 for the upcoming group stage matches.
As noted, Ricardo Quaresma also had an amazing outing in Sochi, along with the devastating defensive duo of Portugal in the form of Jose Fonte and the ever-versatile Pepe.
Negatives for Portugal:
Despite Fonte and Pepe leading from the front, Portugal’s defensive performance on the evening did feel pretty basic and comprised of several defensive errors as well, which subsequently led to the first two goals from Diego Costa.
Positives for Spain:
The Spanish side dominated the game and had a pretty big impact on the entire match, all thanks to their astonishing attack, which had the proper back-up of an amazing midfield led by the evergreen Andres Iniesta and the talented Isco.
Spain’s attacking performance is definitely going to reflect on the rest of their World Cup campaign, as they now prepare to head into their second group stage match against Iran.
Negatives for Spain:
The Spanish defense was definitely looking very shaky at times and was simultaneously vulnerable during the counter attacks as well. David De Gea, in specific, had a terrible match and below-par performance.