Portugal 3-3 Spain
Portugal’s Group B opener was highlighted by talisman Cristiano Ronaldo’s hattrick of goals in a scintillating encounter. Spain’s Diego Costa got a brace for himself before Nacho scored a stunning volley to give La Roja the lead but with little time left on the clock, Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to curl a free-kick into the back of the net with David De Gea rooted to the spot.
Iran 1-0 Morocco
Morocco’s world cup group stage exit can be blamed on profligacy in front of goal and it all began in their first match against Iran. There looked like there would be no goal in a game largely dominated by the North Africans till a dramatic end that saw Morocco’s Aziz Bouhaddouz put through his own net late into stoppage time to gift the Iranians all three points. Bouhaddouz became the first world cup substitute to score an own-goal since Portugal’s Petit in 2006 against Germany.
Portugal 1-0 Morocco
Cristiano Ronaldo’s header four minutes into the match at the Luzhniki stadium against the Atlas Lions was enough for the European Champions to secure maximum points. Morocco wary of the threat posed by the Portuguese captain managed to keep him quiet for most of the encounter but that was after Ronaldo had put Portugal ahead with a fine header from Joao Moutinho’s corner. The North Africans pressed for an equaliser but Portugal held firm to seal the win culminating in Morocco’s world cup exit after two losses.
Spain 1-0 Iran
Diego Costa might have been unable to get a hattrick in Spain’s first game against Portugal after he came off for Iago Aspas in the second half but he spared that extra goal for the game against Iran when a clearance from Ramin Rezaeian came back off his leg into the back of the net in the 54th minute. The goal would prove vital for the Spaniards who were prevented from doubling their advantage by an organised Iran team.
Portugal 1-1 Iran
Cristiano Ronaldo was not made to rue his penalty miss in the 53rd-minute as Portugal held firm to earn a solitary point that secured their last-16 qualification in second place. Ricardo Quaresma gave Portugal the lead on the stroke of half-time with a stunning side-footed volley before Cristiano Ronaldo failed to add to his tally from a Video-assisted spot-kick. Another Video-assisted penalty afforded Iran a lifeline when Ansarifard levelled scoring for the Asians but an upset in the dying moments of the match did not come to fruition as Portugal moved on to the next round.
Spain 2-2 Morocco
In a dramatic finale to Spain’s draw against Morocco in Kaliningrad, Iago Aspas scored an added time equaliser to afford Spain the luxury of finishing the group stages in top spot and setup a last-16 clash against hosts Russia. Khalid Boutaib gave Morocco a first-half lead before Isco equalised five minutes later for the Spaniards. Morocco already eliminated held on to their second-half lead from En-Nesyri hoping to claim a victory but Aspas tucked in from Dani Carvajal’s cross to claim top spot for Spain.