2018-06-15 14:55:08
World Cup 2018: Spain vs. Portugal Live

14:55, June 15 252 0

• Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored 2 goals to give Portugal a 2-1 lead over Spain in the World Cup.

• Earlier, Diego Costa equalized for Spain in the 24th minute.

• Refresh here for live updates and analysis from Russia.

How to watch: In the U.S., Fox and Telemundo have the broadcast, but you can stream it here. Here’s the 2018 World Cup schedule.

Cristiano Ronaldo scores early — a fourth-minute penalty — and late — on a 44th-minute blunder by Spain’s goalkeeper — and Portugal leads the Iberian Derby in Sochi, 2-1 at the break. Spain was solid except for the two times it wasn’t, and Ronaldo — an assassin of a forward who seems to get better with age — was there each time to pounce.

A howler from De Gea and Portugal leads 2-1. Ronaldo gets the ball near the top of the area, and wangles a hard low shot at De Gea. Eminently saveable, he instead lets it skip off him and in. That’s a terrible mistake from an outstanding goalkeeper, and it’s cost his team badly here in the closing second of the half.

Rory Smith: This will be no solace for David De Gea — who really does not make mistakes like that — but this is the game the World Cup needed. Spain has been breathtaking at times, but there’s a resilience to Portugal, a nous, that makes them a threat. And they have this guy upfront: tall, tan, who looks to have quite the career ahead of him.

One of the eternal truths of world soccer is that when Pepe fouls a guy from behind and then helps him up and says “sorry,” he’s probably not. The same truism applies to Sergio Ramos and probably a dozen other players you can think of off the top of your head.

And we close in on halftime, let’s all acknowledge and say thanks that this game is far, far better than both Egypt-Uruguay and Iran-Morocco were.

Andres Iniesta turns in the area and rolls a low shot toward the far post through a teammate’s legs. But he’s got the angle fractionally wrong, and while Rui Patricio dives to make it look good in the photos, the ball was always going wide.

The contrast in attacking styles tonight is remarkable: Spain attacks like a molasses spill — slowly and steadily creeping forward, ever forward, inch by inch — applying more and more pressure, hoping something finally cracks, and they’re in. Portugal, on the other hand, waits and waits and then breaks out like a stolen Ferrari on the counterattack.

They finally show the replay of the Spanish shot off the bar, and it wasn’t close to crossing the line when it came down. Goal line technology, introduced at the World Cup in 2014, does its job. I’ve never seen it fall to be honest.

Fernando Hierro, by the way, is prowling the Spain coaching box in shirtsleeves like he wants to check in to the game. Gesturing, clapping, stalking.

Silva stands over the free kick with Koke as the referee sets the wall. Silva right, Koke left. But the shot finds the wall like a magnet.

Was that in?? We’ll review. A Spanish shot rockets off the crossbar and down off the line — Georff Hurst-style — but a second look says no, it didn’t go in. And again play moves on.

Diego Costa gets behind the defense and dances around two defenders until he can get a look at the goal. Spotting it, he buries a shot past Rui Patricio.

Rory Smith: Spain’s reputation for delicacy is well-earned, but occasionally a little bit of brute force is required: Diego Costa bulldozes (just about fairly) through Pepe, twists and turns until he sees a glimmer of goal, and then arrows a shot past Rui Patricio. This is better than Iran against Morocco.

We’re spending a bit more time in Portugal’s end here as Spain probes the Portuguese defense at its leisure. Now Iniesta spots a crease and dashes into on the left. He takes the ball to the end line and cuts it back for Silva, but his shot goes wide.

Sergio Busquets loses a ball on the left side and, compounding his mistake, picks up a yellow. Ronaldo stands over the free kick.

Ronaldo slams it into the wall, half of Portugal’s team calls for a handball, but the referee, Italy’s Gianluca Rocchi, isn’t having it. He points the other way, and Spain is playing keepaway again.

A little more possession for Spain here, which is their comfort zone. Quick one touch stuff: here you have it, oh no you take it back, no you, really, no you, OK, I’ll look over here, oh never mind here’s the ball back. But it might settle them a bit.

The crowd roars audibly literally every time Ronaldo touches the ball. He’s the star here, a spotlight that as we all know he doesn’t like. (I’m totally kidding; he looooooooves it.)

Ruo Patricio almost seems like he’s time-wasting after collecting a deep ball, picking it up, dropping it, picking it up again. Which would be the funniest thing ever considering it it’s THE ELEVENTH MINUTE.

Spain is wearing white today, btw, and Portugal is in Spain’s traditional red shirts. It’s a little disconcerting.

The ball falls to David Silva after a hopeful cross into the penalty area, and he slashes at it with his right foot and skies it over the bar.

The look on his face after that miss surely matches all of Spain’s, a nation trying to figure out how such a hopeful summer could go so wrong so far.

Well, we said there would be drama, and that’s it from the start. A foul, a whistle and a penalty for Ronaldo! He converts, and just like that Spain’s World Cup somehow manages to get even worse.

Rory Smith: Four minutes in, Portugal leads, through what looked, at first glance, like something of a soft penalty. Cristiano Ronaldo’s dancing feet enticed Nacho — his Real Madrid teammate — into what was definitely a foolish tackle; the forward threw himself to the floor after what was probably fairly minimal contact, and then dusted himself down to convert the spot-kick. His celebration — stroking his chin — may have been a G.O.A.T. reference. More on that as we get it.

There’s a buoyant atmosphere in Sochi ahead of the first really heavyweight meeting of the 2018 World Cup — an Iberian derby between Spain and Portugal. It’s been easy to miss the European fans in Russia so far — the Latin American contingents are more numerous and, if we’re honest, louder — but there are plenty from both countries in the baking heat of Sochi, on the lip of the Black Sea. The stadium is pretty much full, too, which is kind of a relief, after both of today’s other games were pockmarked by empty seats. — Rory Smith

Spain’s new coach, Fernando Hierro, has stepped into a bit of a mess before this game, but he told reporters this week that Spain had no time to dwell on it.

“We’ve come to fight for the World Cup,” he said. “We have a great opportunity and that should be the focus.”

Hierro understands the stage; he made four World Cup teams and played in three for Spain. He said this week that he took over the team in its time of crisis out of a sense of duty. “When the president told me the possibility, I had three choices: to say no, another was to go and the third was to stay, to take a step forward for the Spanish federation and for Spanish soccer,” he said. “I couldn’t say no because I would not forgive myself.”

The lineups are out in Sochi, and both include household names:

For Spain: De Gea; Nacho, Piqué, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Koke, Iniesta; Isco, Silva; Diego Costa.

One player who may have been lost in all the drama is Spain goalkeeper David De Gea. He’s among the best in the world at his position, and he just signed a new five-year deal to stay at Manchester United. So that should clear his head just in time to face Ronaldo.

For Portugal: Patricio, Soares, Fonte, Pepe, Guerreiro, B Silva, Carvalho, Moutinho, Fernandes, Guedes, Ronaldo

They’ll have a lot to live up to: the day’s first two games both ended with dramatic late winners. The soccer, however, should be a bit smoother from these two. For the sake of everyone, let’s hope it’s Ronaldo and Iniesta and David Silva and Bernardo Silva we’re talking about later, and not something Pepe or Sergio Ramos has done.

• This game was one of the most anticipated of the first round even before it became the Drama Derby this week.

• Spain fired the first shot by firing its coach, Julen Loeptegui, on Wednesday — one day after he was announced as the new coach at Real Madrid. Spanish federation officials were apparently enraged that Lopetegui gave them five minutes’ notice of the official announcement that he was leaving.

• Lopetegui was replaced by Fernando Hierro, a former national team player with World Cup experience who was the national team’s technical director.

• How big an impact will it have? That’s the big question. Defender Gerard Piqué tweeted a reference to the 1989 University of Michigan basketball team, which dumped its coach before the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament that year and then won six straight games, and the championship. “All together; now more than ever,” he wrote. But let’s be honest: it’s not an ideal situation for a team thought to be a World Cup title contender.

• Just when things had started to settle down, though, Real Madrid fired them back up: its chairman, Florentino Perez, who had started the whole mess by poaching Lopetegui and announcing it on the eve of the World Cup, declared himself and his club “disrespected” by the Spanish federation’s decision to fire his new man. Ouch.

• Not to be ignored, Portugal has its own drama: On Friday morning, reports in Spain emerged that the Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo had agreed to pay $18.8 million euros (about $21.8 million) and accept a suspended jail sentence to settle a tax case over undeclared earnings from his many endorsement deals. As trolling and changing the subject goals, whoever leaked that on the day of the game deserves a gold star.

• Soccer interlude: the game still promises to be a fantastic affair. Portugal, led by the chiseled bronze statue Ronaldo, won the 2016 European Championship, and a World Cup run would bolster his best-player-ever credentials. Spain, the 2010 World Cup champ, is good enough to win again this year — if events or drama don’t spoil it all.

• One of the more fun duels to watch today will be Ronaldo vs. Spain defender Sergio Ramos. They are teammates at Real Madrid, and Ronaldo is often the beneficiary of the dark arts Ramos employs to thwart and unnerve opposing strikers. Today, Ronaldo is that opposing striker.

• Here’s Rory Smith’s piece from Wednesday on the stunning Lopetegui firing.

• Sid Lowe wrote in The Guardian about the ethics of the move.

• Here’s a BBC piece on Florentino Perez’s remarks about being “disrespected.”