World Cup 2018: 3 key battles that decided Portugal versus Spain
We were promised goals, we were promised some high-intensity World Cup football. They certainly delivered, as Spain and Portugal played out a very exciting 3-3 draw at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.
It began with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring 4 minutes after the starting whistle, and ended with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring 8 minutes before the final whistle and in-between, there was everything a football fan could ask for - a banger, a howler, some drama, tap-ins.
This draw makes the group even more interesting, as it now means that the winner of the group will be decided on goal difference, thus prompting both teams to attack in numbers in the coming games. Or will we see Iran pull off a miracle?
As always, there were a few individual battles that went a long way in deciding the final outcome of the game. Here's a look at 3 of them.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo vs Gerard Pique
A lot has been said and written about how Ronaldo in the national team jersey is not good enough, especially in the World Cups where he tends to go missing. There could not have been a better answer to that dumb question.
The first goal came in characteristic controversial fashion, as whether that was a penalty or not will never be agreed upon. Well, it was inside the box, it was a foul and even if Ronaldo might have milked it for all its worth, it is a foul inside the box. Therefore a penalty.
The second goal came from a rare De Gea howler, as a straight-forward shot from Ronaldo found its way to the back of the net much to the surprise of the Spanish players and fans. The third was just quality - a picture-perfect free-kick placed in the top right corner, curling from away and beyond a shocked keeper.
Gerard Pique was the one who fouled Ronaldo and conceded that dreaded free-kick, and it was such an unnecessary foul to concede as well.
But to Pique's credit, he threw himself in front of the ball and Ronaldo without considering the consequences, and that's saying something.