World Cupdate: Ronaldo Delivers

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Via @OptaJoe

Welcome to your daily 2018 FIFA World Cup update, or World Cupdate, where we recap the past day’s proceedings from Russia while previewing what is still to come. These features will run every morning throughout the duration of the tournament and feature highlights, major news, and much more from Russia.


Here’s What Happened: Friday, June 15

If Thursday’s 2018 FIFA World Cup opening match was a letdown, then Friday’s slate of matches did more than enough to make up for it. A late winner gave Uruguay all three points, a soul-crushing own goal put Iran in the win column, and a Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick saved Portugal. Friday was the perfect example of what makes the World Cup so special.

Let’s break it all down.

Egypt 0-1 Uruguay

News broke prior to the match that Mo Salah was not in the starting lineup for Egypt but was able to come off the bench. It was disheartening news for an Egyptian team playing its first World Cup match since 1990. Salah never saw the field on Friday but his side did put in a fight against a strong Uruguay team.

Both sides tried but failed to break the deadlock on numerous occasions throughout the match. Missed opportunities and big saves dominated the storyline for most of the match until Uruguayan defender José Giménez capitalized in the 89th minute. A bad foul by Egypt gave Uruguay a free kick in a dangerous area where they could whip the ball into the penalty area. Substitute Carlos Sánchez hit a cross that met the head of Giménez who sent it into the back of the goal to give Uruguay the last second victory.

With the three points, Uruguay sits in second behind Russia in Group A and in a great position to win the group going forward. Even with the loss, Egypt played well without their best player and still have a good shot at advancing.

Morocco 0-1 Iran

If either of these two sides wanted to advance out of a top-heavy Group B then three points in their opening match were absolutely vital. For 94 minutes it appeared as if neither team was going to walk away with the victory and instead settle for a draw. Then came the 95th minute.

A bad foul by Morocco set up Iran in a dangerous spot for a free kick into the penalty area, very similar to Uruguay in the earlier match. The end result was similar as well just not exactly how Iran drew it up. Hitting the cross near post, Moroccan defender Aziz Bouhaddouz attempted to clear it with his head but instead directed the shot directly into his own net for a soul-crushing own goal that handed Iran the 1-0 victory.

Iran may lead Group B after the first set of group matches but they will need results against Spain and Portugal in their final two games if they hope to move on. Any chance of Morocco advancing looks to be gone now unless the unexpected happens.

Portugal 3-3 Spain

When the World Cup schedule was announced back in December, this game instantly jumped out as perhaps the best group stage match of this World Cup. The match delivered in every way imaginable and it began right from the start.

Less than five minutes into the match, Cristiano Ronaldo was hauled down in the penalty area and Portugal was awarded a penalty. Ronaldo easily converted from the spot to put the reigning European champions in front 1-0 early. With the goal, Ronaldo became just the fourth player to score in four different World Cups, joining Pele, Uwe Seeler, and Miroslav Klose.

Trailing early did not seem to disrupt the Spaniards too much as they began to control the tempo of the game and were rewarded with a tying goal. Off a great solo effort from Diego Costa, the Atletico Madrid striker received a pass and skillfully eluded the entire Portuguese back line before blasting a shot into the back of the net.

It looked like the teams were going to head into the halftime break knotted at 1-1 but Ronaldo had other ideas. Playing himself onside, Ronaldo struck a shot from outside the penalty area and it squeaked through an unprepared David de Gea for a 2-1 Portugal lead.

Spain regained control of the game out of halftime and within the blink of an eye, tied the contest then took the lead moments later. Diego Costa scored his second goal of the game in the 55th minute from directly in front off goal, redirecting a headed pass into the back of the net. Three minutes later, Spain took their first lead of the game at 3-2 off a blistering shot from Real Madrid defender Nacho. The shot struck the inside of the far post and crossed the goal line for a 3-2 Spain lead in the 58th minute.

Spain was on the verge of collecting all three points but Cristiano Ronaldo had different plans. Setting up for a free kick in the 88th minute, Ronaldo stood over the ball and surveyed his options. Whatever option Ronaldo chose it turned out to be the right one as he beat the Spanish wall and placed the ball perfectly in the top corner to tie the match at 3-3 and salvage a point for his side.

What felt like a victory for Portugal certainly felt like a defeat for Spain but ultimately, each side remains in solid position to advance to the knockout stages. Both will be heavily favored in their next two matches and the group winner may be determined by who outscores Iran and Morocco by the greater margin. Expect plenty of goals from both sides in their next two games.

A match this heavily hyped often times disappoints but these two sides surpassed every expectation put forth. For most of the match, Spain were the dominant team and played like tournament favorites. Portugal were opportunistic and having one of the best players ever playing one of his best games never hurts. Both sides proved they can lift the trophy in Moscow next month.


Goals of the Day

Every Cupdate, we will highlight our three best goals from the previous day of competition. Here are our selections for Friday, June 15th.

Diego Costa (Spain)

Costa scored twice on Friday but it was his first that really stood out. Taking on five Portuguese players, Costa skillfully controls the ball long enough to create a small opening and fires a shot into the back of the net for Spain’s first goal.

Nacho (Spain)

Spain trailed at halftime of their opening match but just over ten minutes into the second half they were in the lead. Diego Costa tied the game then Nacho put them in front with this laser of a shot.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

There isn’t much to say about Ronaldo that hasn’t already been said. He’s one of the greatest players to ever step on a pitch and he has both the numbers of trophies to back that up. This is is just another reminder of his greatness.

Check back tomorrow for more great goals from the 2018 World Cup.


Group Update

Both Group A and Group B have now completed their first round of group stages matches. Russia is on top of Group A thanks to goal differential over Uruguay and Iran leads Group B after their last-second victory over Morocco.

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Here’s What’s Next: Saturday, June 16

Saturday marks the busiest day of the opening week of the 2018 FIFA World Cup with four matches on the schedule. All four teams from Group C and Group D are in action and there will be several big names and tournament favorites in action.

France v. Australia (Group C)

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Via @AFP
  • Time: 6:00 AM
  • Location: Kazan Arena (Kazan)
  • How to Watch: FS1

France’s journey to a second World Cup championship begins early Saturday morning against the Socceroos. Ageless wonder Tim Cahill returns to lead his Australia squad one final time on the world stage. France will be showcasing one of the most talented squads in Russia but that has not always guaranteed them success at the World Cup. There will be a lot of pressure on The Blues to live up the hype surrounding them.

Argentina v. Iceland (Group D)

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Via @AFP
  • Time: 9:00 AM
  • Location: Spartak Stadium (Spartak)
  • How to Watch: FOX

For the first time, Iceland will be playing in a World Cup game and their opponent is none other than Lionel Messi and Argentina. It’s a win/win situation for Iceland, if they come away with a result its the biggest story of the tournament so far. If they lose, then it’s no big deal because it was Argentina. It’s role reversal for Messi and Co. who carry the weight of a nation on their shoulders.

Peru v. Denmark (Group C)

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Via @AFP
  • Time: 12:00 PM
  • Location: Mordovia Arena (Saransk)
  • How to Watch: FS1

If France are the favorites to win Group C then Peru and Denmark are the co-favorites to finish in second. Two of the last teams to qualify for the field of 32 will meet in the first game of the tournament for both sides. Peru is returning to the tournament for the first time since 1982 while Denmark is back for the first time since 2010. Three points will be crucial for either side if they hope to extend their stay.

Croatia v. Nigeria (Group D)

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Via @AFP
  • Time: 3:00 PM
  • Location: Kaliningrad Stadium (Kaliningrad)
  • How to Watch: FS1

Similar to the matchup above, both Croatia and Nigeria enter the World Cup as co-favorites to advance out of Group D as a runner-up. If things break right either side could steal the group if Argentina slips up. Maybe the best kit matchup of the tournament, these two dark horses will be fighting to bag all three points to boost their chances of advancing.

You can watch all these games live on the channels listed or streaming online at FoxSports.com with a cable sign in.

If highlights are more your style, check out @FOXSoccer on Twitter where goals and game recaps are posted throughout the day.

All game times are listed in Eastern Standard Time.


Golden Boot Standings

The Golden Boot Award goes to the top goal scorer at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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via beIN Sports

Keep up to date on everything World Cup right here on “The Bat Flip” where we will be posting our daily World Cupdate to recap what went on and preview what’s still to come in Russia.

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