SARANSK Russia (Xinhua) --
Iran fought to the last moment and only narrowly
missed the chance to reach the knockout phase of World Cup after
a draw with Portugal 1-1 here Monday night.
Despite the fact
that the Portuguese dominated the ball throughout the match, the
Iranians showed the world their spectacular spirit by levelling
the score 1-1 in the 93rd minute and almost scored
the winner a minute later but only to see the ball hit the side
With five points
from two draws and one win, Portugal take the second place of
Group B to qualify for the round of 16, while Spain top the list
with equal points but one more goal, and Iran are the third with
Monday’s match was
decisive for both sides to reach the knockout phase. While
Portugal only needed a draw, Iran had to win to progress.
In face of the
strong Portuguese side playing 4-4-2 formation with star striker
Cristiano Ronaldo, Iran started with the 4-5-1 formation to
The Portuguese were
pressing hard from the very beginning and made their first
threat to the Iranian goal just two minutes into the match, with
Ronaldo making a shot after meeting a pass from Joao Mario only
to see the goal confiscated by the alert Ali Beiranvand of Iran.
Iran also had their
chances. In the 7th minute, Vahid Amiri made an
attempt at the Portuguese goal after meeting a pass from Alireza
Jahanbakhsh but the ball went just wide.
In the 22nd
minute, Sardar Azmoun made a long pass to the running
Jahanbakhsh, and Rui Patricio of Portugal was brisk enough to
intercept the ball.
Ronaldo, who has
scored all four of Portugal’s previous goals in Russia, was
heavily marked by the Iranian side.
The deadlock was
broken in the 45th minute, when Ricardo Quaresma put
Portugal ahead 1-0 after he capitalized on the open space left
by the Iranians and curved the ball into the left upper corner
of the net past the fingertips of the Iranian goalkeeper.
side, the Portuguese emerged with more attacking spirits and
left Iran little space and chance, but the Iranians continued
their fights to level the score.
Ronaldo could have
expanded the lead for Portugal when he was awarded a penalty
with the help of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system in the
51st minute, but Iran keeper Beiranvand made a superb
The same VAR system
showed Ronaldo with a foul against Iranian player Morteza
Pouraliganji and caused the Portuguese captain to get a yellow
card in the 83rd minute.
In the 93rd
minute, Iran was awarded a penalty after a handball of
Portugal’s Cedric and Karim Ansarifard drove the ball into the
right upper corner of the net past the diving Patricio.
Still in the
stoppage time, while the Portuguese were still at a loss for the
unexpected draw, Iran took the chance and launched a final
attack, when Mehdi Taremi met a pass from a teammate and kicked
the ball into the side netting.
“It was a football
game that we honored and we brought prestige to the World Cup,”
said Iran coach Carlos Queiroz at the post-match press
He added that his
players had the discipline and the attitude and should have been
the winner of the game.
“It’s such a big
disappointment for us. We created some chances but
unfortunately, we didn’t score. We had a big chance at the end
of the game, we could have scored and won it,” said Iranian
player Alireza Jahanbakhsh.
Fernando Santos said that his team turned out better though Iran
had their own merits.
“The important thing
is to think about the (Round-of-16) match, to get to know your
adversaries and then to get well prepared mentally and
physically,” said Santos.
As runner-up of
Group B, Portugal will take on Uruguay in the knockout phase.
“Uruguay have high
quality and top-notch players and they’re all excellent - but
Portugal too. We have our weapons and we’re going to try to
win,” said Santos.
It was the second
encounter of Iran and Portugal at a World Cup tournament, with
Portugal beating Iran 2-0 in their previous meeting at the
Germany 2006 group stage.
An interesting fact
is that Ronaldo was the only one on the pitch now that played
that match 12 years ago and scored Portugal’s second goal in
that match at the age of 21.
spectators attended Monday’s match at the 44,000-seat Mordovia
Arena, among which Iran fans largely outnumbered Portugal
After the game
ended, the fans gave their applause to the Iranian players
staying on the pitch at a loss and sad for their missed chance
and hugging each other.