Ricardo Quaresma rescues Portugal at World Cup after Cristiano Ronaldo misses penalty kick
SARANSK, Russia (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo’s missed penalty cost Portugal first place in its World Cup group.
It could have been worse if not for Ricardo Quaresma, who started for the first time in the tournament and scored his maiden World Cup goal with a shot that had about as much flare as any in the tournament.
Portugal finished second in Group B after a 1-1 draw with Iran on Monday. The 2016 European champions will next face Uruguay on Saturday in the round of 16.
“The conclusion and the most important thing is we’re going to continue playing,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “We had a strong opponent.”
Quaresma became the only player other than Ronaldo to score for the Portuguese in three games in Russia. The 34-year-old midfielder also became Portugal’s oldest scorer in World Cup play by hitting a curling shot from the edge of the penalty area that went beyond the reach of diving Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand.
Ronaldo — who had scored all four Portugal goals in its first two games of Group B play — was denied on his penalty by Beiranvand’s dive toward the right post in the second half.
“We were on top of the game until the penalty, and we didn’t make it. It wasn’t perfect, but that’s football,” Santos said. “We did what was expected and now we have to settle down and think about Uruguay.”
Karim Ansarifard scored a late penalty for Iran, which needed to win to advance, but couldn’t break through a second time despite a furious charge in the waning minutes. The Mordovia arena momentarily vibrated from the sound of Iran fans’ roars when Mehdi Taremi hit the side of the net from 6 yards out.
Spain 2, Morocco 2
At Kaliningrad, it took a video review of an injury-time equalizer to give Spain first place in World Cup Group B.
Spain substitute Iago Aspas scored the late goal in its draw. His clever deflection off a cross from Dani Carvajal was initially disallowed for offside, but the video assistant referee overruled the call at Kaliningrad Stadium.
“Until the last minute, we weren’t sure who was going to finish first and second,” Spain coach Fernando Hierro said. “And I have to say we were lucky to finish first.”
The decision set off a touchline melee among players from both sides.
Hierro took over as Spain coach on the eve of the World Cup when Julen Lopetegui was fired after taking the job at Real Madrid. Now he is heading to the World Cup’s knockout stage.
A rare mix-up by Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos gifted Morocco its first goal of the World Cup, with Khalid Boutaib pouncing on the loose ball and scoring in the 14th minute. Iniesta made amends five minutes later by setting up Isco at the other end with a clever cut back pass to bring Spain level at halftime.
Youssef En Nesyri then headed in a goal in the 81st minute to give already-eliminated Morocco hope of a victory.
With Portugal also drawing with Iran, Spain progressed as group winner because it scored more goals. Next up, Spain plays host Russia on Sunday in Moscow.
Uruguay 3, Russia 0
At Samara, Luis Suarez finally got rattled at this year’s World Cup.
Sitting at the podium in the post-match news conference following Uruguay’s victory to win Group A, a reporter asked him why he often wore a sad expression.
Suarez tossed aside his translation headphones, then smiled broadly in defiance and finally said: “What a waste of time. Next question please.”
Other than that little blip, Suarez has been on his best behavior in Russia, scoring twice as Uruguay swept through the group stage with three straight victories — sending the two-time champions to the knockout round for the third straight World Cup.
Edinson Cavani also scored against the host nation, which dropped its first match of the tournament.
Both teams were already assured of spots in the knockout round.
Uruguay, which also benefited from an own-goal in the first half, had its third straight shutout of the tournament after consecutive 1-0 victories over Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Uruguayans and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera have not allowed a goal in any of the team’s six matches this year.
Saudi Arabia 2, Egypt 1
At Volgograd, the oldest person to play in a World Cup match made some spectacular saves. He also watched two go past him.
Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, who is 45, took the field for his team’s final group match to set the record. Although he saved one penalty, he couldn’t stop Saudi Arabia from winning in a game between teams already eliminated.
“I am very sorry for the fans, for everyone in Egypt,” El Hadary said. “I want to thank my teammates. It was a great honor for me to play.”
Salem Aldawsari scored the winner for the Saudis with almost the last kick of the match, volleying past El Hadary from a tight angle inside the Egypt penalty area.
Mohamed Salah, playing for the second time since injuring his left shoulder in last month’s Champions League final, had put Egypt ahead in the 22nd minute after deftly controlling a long ball from Abdalla Said and then lobbing goalkeeper Yasser Almosailem.
It was Salah’s second goal at the World Cup, and Egypt’s first in open play at the World Cup since 1934.