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Portugal & Spain Qualify on a Night of VAR Controversy

Both Portugal and Spain progressed from Group B into the knockout stages of the 2018 World Cup on Monday night. Both teams played out tense ties on a night when VAR played a massive and contentious role.

Portugal drew 1 – 1 with Iran who, before the game, had an equal chance to qualify with Spain or Portugal.


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The match played out as we would have expected. Portugal dominated possession and Iran defended stubbornly. Despite a few nervy moments, Iran showed the resilience that has been a hallmark of their play in the tournament.

It took a wonder goal from Ricardo Quaresma to break the deadlock in the last minute of the first half. After a nice one-two, Quaresma received the ball on the right-hand edge of the box. He unleashed a curling shot into the top corner from the outside of his boot to make it 1 – 0.


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The second half was dull, and it looked as if Portugal would simply see the game out. That was until controversy broke out and VAR was utilized on two key incidents.

In the 83rd minute, a Cristiano Ronaldo shove was reviewed by officials. He was handed a yellow card, which he could feel hard done by for.

Then, Iran were awarded a penalty after video review. Karim Ansarifard converted the penalty to make it 1 – 1. The goal came in the 4th minute of injury time. As Spain and Morocco were still playing out a draw, Portugal looked safe. However, Iran had one last chance.

A minute later, the ball fell to Mehdi Taremi 6 yards out. He could have won the game and secured qualification for Iran, but his shot hit the side netting.

It was a big let off for Portugal, who would have been punished by higher quality opposition. Taremi was seen in tears at the final whistle as the weight of his miss hit him.

Meanwhile, Spain secured qualification with a 2 – 2 draw with eliminated Morocco.

Portugal face Uruguay in the Round of 16, while Spain will play against the hosts, Russia.

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