Favourites progress on day of records and anniversaries
25 Jun 2018
DAY REPLAYED – After two impressive performances, hosts Russia were finally undone by Uruguay in a match where they spent almost an hour with ten men. La Celeste ended the battle for top spot in Group A with a 3-0 win, thanks to Luis Suarez (10’), Denis Cheryshev (own goal, 23’) and Edinson Cavani (90’) to reach the Round of 16 with a flawless record of three victories, five goals scored and none conceded. Both teams had already booked their place in the knockout stages before the match.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia brought their run of 12 winless FIFA World Cup™ games to an end by defeating Egypt 2-1, although their opponents could at least console themselves with the fact that goalkeeper Essam El Hadary became the competition’s oldest-ever player. Superstar Mohamed Salah fired the Pharoahs into the lead after 22 minutes before Salman Al Faraj (45'+6) and Salem Al Dossari (90’+5) ended the Saudi’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ campaign on a high note.
Events took a much more exciting turn in Group B, where the standings changed several times in the space of 90 minutes. Cristiano Ronaldo even missed a penalty in the 53rd minute of Portugal's encounter with IR Iran – the 19th spot-kick of the tournament so far and a new World Cup record. A 1-1 draw was ultimately enough for the European champions to secure second place after Ricardo Quaresma’s 45th-minute strike was cancelled out by a penalty from Karim Ansarifard (90’+ 3).
While Spain had to work harder than expected against already-eliminated Morocco, their 2-2 draw was sufficient for them to top the group ahead of CR7 and his team-mates. Khalid Boutaib and Youssef En Nesyri put the underdogs ahead twice in the 14th and 81st minutes, with goals from Isco (19’) and Iago Aspas (90’+1) ensuring that the points were shared. The Africans and group rivals IR Iran must now head home.
In the Round of 16, Uruguay will meet Portugal in Sochi on 30 June, with Spain set to play hosts Russia in Moscow a day later.
Did you know?
On Monday, Egyptian goalkeeper El Hadary became the oldest player ever to feature at a World Cup at the age of 45 years and 161 days. His superb 41st-minute penalty save proved that age has not diminished his goalkeeping skills. His appearance means he takes the record from Colombia’s Faryd Mondragon, who was 43 years and three days old when he played against Japan at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. El Hadary has represented the Pharoahs since 1996, won the CAF Africa Cup of Nations on four occasions and claimed his 159th cap against Saudi Arabia.
Another goalkeeper also had a reason to celebrate, as Uruguay’s Fernando Muslera made his 100th international appearance against Russia and became his country’s most-capped World Cup player with 14 matches under his belt.
Tomorrow’s matches (26 June)
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