Iran held Portugal to a 1-1 draw in their first stage FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk on Monday.
Portugal survived a late surge from Iran to advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup despite Cristiano Ronaldo having a penalty kick saved.
Ricardo Quaresma gave Portugal the lead with a long strike across the penalty area just before halftime.
Ronaldo saw towering goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand knock away his spot kick in the 53rd minute. A goal there would have tied him with England’s Harry Kane for the tournament lead with five.
Karim Ansarifard scored on a stoppage-time penalty shot for Iran, which needed a victory to advance, and Mehdi Taremi hit the side of the net from 6 yards out moments later.
Portugal have never lost a World Cup match they have been leading. Winning ten and drawing two.
Spain and Portugal are tied on points and goal differential but Spain topped the group because it scored six goals to Portugal’s five over the course of the three matches. Portugal will play Uruguay to begin the round of 16.
“It was a football game that we honoured and we brought prestige to the World Cup. It was a very competitive World Cup game, minute-by-minute, duel-by-duel, playing against one of the best teams in the world. I think Iran, without any doubt, with the discipline, with the attitude, with the way we controlled the game, if there was some justice in football – which doesn’t exist – only one winner would have come out in this game. And that winner is Iran.” Carlos Queiroz, Iran coach said in the post game presser.
“The important thing is to think about the [Round-of-16] match, think about the game, get to know your adversaries and then to get well prepared mentally and physically, regardless of it being Uruguay or the hosts. These are different circumstance of course, the hosts have huge support and they’ve had a very good tournament, while Uruguay has 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.” Fernando Santos, Portugal coach said.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups will proceed to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.