World Cup 2018: Portugal vs Iran; 5 Best, Worst & Average Players
Football, bloody hell!
Carlos Queiroz instilled and channeled self-belief of the highest quality in this Iranian team, as they gave it all that they had in order to keep their chances of qualification to the Round of 16 intact.
However, Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo’s previous performances simply could not be overturned, though, Iran managed to drop them down to the second spot.
Portugal will now have to face Uruguay in the next round, as Iran stole a late penalty through a perceived handball by Cedric Soares.
The tables kept on turning throughout the night, as Iran pushed their limits to match that of Portugal by Fernando Santos’ endless defensive drills bore fruit as Portugal kept hold of their fort sans that single spot-kick. There were plenty of nervy moments in this game, with tides turning heavily on Iran’s favor.
However, Queiroz’s men failed to apply the finishing touch to their attacks, and Portugal countered well enough to thwart dangers. Here, I discuss five players who went through contrasting periods for the duration of 90 minutes:
#5 Worst: Ehsan Hajsafi
Iran have been tirelessly churned to maintain defensive solidity by their manager. Regularly, they have proven to be tough nuts to be cracked and they always close down spaces near the final third.
Moreover, a major part of their style of play is to block the passing lanes, closely follow the opposition’s creative outlet and to put their body in the line of the ball.
This has frustrated the opposition well enough in the past, but Portugal managed to carve out an opening in their backline.
Left-back Ehsan Hajsafi was caught off-position regularly and was failing to stick to his positions. He did not even deliver decent deliveries into the box and resorted to committing stupid fouls whenever he didn’t get back to his actual positions.
Hajsafi was targeted by Portugal regularly, with Cristiano Ronaldo shifting to the right for a considerable period to churn out something productive from that flank.
However, it was Ricardo Quaresma who cut in and played a one-two from that very wing, leaving Hajsafi flabbergasted and scored a beautiful goal to give Portugal a lead at the brink of halftime.