Spain 3-3 Portugal: Two giants serve up the best game of the tournament so far
Spain take on Portugal in Group B. Photo: Vavel

Spain 3-3 Portugal: Two giants serve up the best game of the tournament so far

kaustubh-pandey
Kaustubh Pandey
SpainDe Gea, Pique, Nacho, Ramos, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta( Thiago, min 70), Koke, Isco, Costa (Iago Aspas, min 77), David Silva( min 86)
PortugalRui Patricio, Raphael, Fonte, Cedric, Moutinho, Bernardo( Quaresma, min 69), William, Fernandes (Joao Mario, min 68), Ronaldo, Guedes (Andre Silva, min 97)
SCORE0-1, min 4, Ronaldo 1-1, min 24, Costa 1-2 min 44, Ronaldo 2-2 min 56, Costa 3-2 min 58, Nacho 3-3 min 87, Ronaldo
REFEREEGianluca Rocchi (ITA) Admonished Busquets (min 17)
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So this was Kaustubh Pandey from VAVEL UK, lads. Unfortunately, my prediction went blatantly wrong. But I've got to be glad to have covered and watched such a legendary game here. See you around soon. Bye.

So here we are then. A game that could have gone either ways has gone neither ways. And deservedly so. Best game of the tournament so far. It had everything. Terrific goals, errors, fouls, passion and above all, drama. 

90 + 5' PEEEEP PEEEP PEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPP! That is full-time. Would be fair to say that this was a game to remember for ages. Terrific game. Football, bloody hell. 

90 + 3' Ronaldo seems fine. He's walking a bit gingerly. But he is fine.

90 + 3' After Ronaldo headed a shot wide of goal, the forward went down injured. 

90 + 2' Quaresma nearly turned the tie around for Portugal there. He had gone past two defenders, but the shot was blocked superbly by Ramos. 

90' Four minutes of stoppage time added on.

87' You can't blame De Gea for that. The free-kick just floated in so perfectly. Ronaldo becomes the first hat-trick in history to score a hat-trick against Spain. His 51st career hat-trick.

87' RONALDDOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! ITS 3-3! 

86' Pique brings Ronaldo down near the edge of the area. Portugal have a big free-kick here. No guesses for who is going to take it!

85' Spain now seem happy to just play the ball around and close the game out.

79' Nervous moments for Spain there. Ronaldo was reaching for a high ball in the box, with just one defender with him and De Gea having come off the line. The Manchester United keeper did enough to keep that one away. Quaresma did get the ball but he used his hand to bring it down and the referee had already seen that.

78' Spain now seem to be content in taking the sting out of the game. Their taking their time in everything, frustrating Portugal.

77' Spain's two-goal hero Costa is being brought off. Its been a classic Costa show today. Lucas Vazquez comes on. 

71' Chance for Spain to increase their lead. Alba's cross had met Costa. But the former Chelsea man couldn't strike it cleanly as the ball went well wide of goal.

70' One change each for both of the sides. Bernardo Silva goes off to make way for Ricardo Quaresma. Thiago Alcantara comes on for Andres Iniesta, who receives a huge round of applause 

68' First change of the game sees Bruno Fernandes make way for Inter Milan's Joao Mario, who spent the second half of the season on loan at West Ham last season.

64' Spain seem to be enjoying this a bit now. Portugal look frustrated.

58' TAKE A BOW, NACHO FERNANDEZ!!! The Real Madrid man stuns the world with that goal. From the edge of the box. Bang into the bottom corner after it hit the post. Spain lead!

De Gea will be the most relieved man in the world right now. Spain come again.

56' DIEGO COSTAAAAAAAAAA!!! Silva's delightfully taken free-kick met Pique's flick on. Costa was on point to put it in. Its all level again!

50' Spain have dominated possession so far. Portugal look happy to being firm and holding their shape at the back. Aren't allowing Spain any room to play in.

46' Portugal get us going for the second half. Get set for what could be a big second half.

And the players are emerging back from the tunnel.

45' That's half-time. Its been an very fiesty and entertaining first half. The best game of the tournament, so far. Full of goals and what not. We'll be back for the second half. Till then, let it sink that David de Gea committed an error. 

44' Ronalddddooooooooo!!!! It was De Gea's blatant error that led to the goal. Ronaldo got the shot away from the edge of the box.  De Gea could not gather it and it trickled in. Portugal lead!

42' Another good chance for Spain falls to Isco. Silva had picked out his run down the left flank. Isco swivelled and took a shot with his left but it went straight at Rui Patricio.

35' BIG CHANCE FOR SPAIN! Terrific play by Spain. Half of the team was involved in the build up around the box. Iniesta's resulting shot meered past Rui Patricio's left-hand post. So close.

31' This Spanish spell of attacks has left Portugal reeling. They looked rattled.

29' Bruno Fernandes had handed Spain a free-kick close to goal. Silva stepped up to take it, but it came off the wall. 

26' BIG CHANCE FOR SPAIN! After the goal stood despite it being checked by VAR, Isco's blistering effort hit the bar and nearly went in. Jordi Alba's rebound was saved by Rui Patricio, but the Barcelona man was offside. 

24' Diego Costaaaaaaaaaa!!!! Typical Costa goal that. He took the ball past Pepe and showed incredible hold-up to eventually fire the ball past Rui Patricio. Vintage, Costa.

22' The corner from the resulting block was cleared and Portugal broke swiftly on the counter. Bernardo played Ronaldo in, who squared it to Guedes, but Pique took the ball away.

21' Another chance for Silva. Iniesta's powered past the Portugal defense down the right flank. He played Silva in, but the shot was blocked well.

18' Ronaldo's resulting free-kick smacks against the wall.

17' Portugal have compressed the length of the pitch and Spain are finding it tough to play in midfield. Busquets fouls Guedes near Portugal's penalty area and that's the first yellow card of the game/

10' Cristiano Ronaldo becomes the fourth player to score in four World Cups, after Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose. Not bad for some!

10' Spain's first chance falls to David Silva. Isco's cross was chested down by Costa and it fell to the Manchester City man, but Silva's right-footed shot floated over Rui Patricio's goal.

8' Into the 8th minute of the game. And while Spain have had all the possession, they haven't done anything substantial with it really.

5' Its been the worst possible start for Spain. The Spanish fans at the stadium have gone quiet.

4' Ronalddddoooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!! And Portugal have a lead!!! De Gea had no chance.

3' And Portugal have a penalty! Nacho brought Ronaldo down in the penalty area and the Italian referee pointed straight to the spot!

The fans in Sochi are cheering loudly everytime Ronaldo receives the ball. Big welcome for him as he took his first touch in the very first minute.

1' And we're offfffff!!!!!

Both sets of players have emerged out of the tunnel at what is an absolutely dazzling Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi. Seems full house there.

We're minutes away from the much awaited kick-off at Sochi. I'll predict a 1-0 win for the Spaniards in Fernando Hierro's debut game in charge of the former World Champions.

Not just Costa against Pepe, we'll also witness Sergio Ramos against Cristiano Ronaldo out there. Its all worth the hype then!!

Its going to be Diego Costa against Pepe out there today. Keep an eye on that, lads. It will be pretty fiery.

We're forty minutes away from the Iberian derby and Sochi seems to be buzzing with excitement. I can't wait for this myself!

It seems like a 4-2-3-1 shape for Portugal, with Spain going with a 4-3-3, with Isco and David Silva playing wide.

Portugal: Rui Patricio, Raphael, Fonte, Cedric, Moutinho, Bernardo, William, Fernandes, Ronaldo, Guedes

Spain: De Gea, Pique, Nacho, Ramos, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Koke, Isco, Costa, David Silva

The squads are out!

What happened the last time these two sides met? They last faced each other in a competitive match in the 2012 European Championships, as they played out a goalless draw. They also played each other at the 2010 World Cup, with Spain coming out as 1-0 winners courtesy of a David Villa goal before going on to win the tournament. In between these two games, Portugal were able to beat Spain 4-0 in an international friendly. It will certainly be interesting to see who comes out on top this evening.

As for Portugal, you would be crazy to look any further than Cristiano Ronaldo. The 33-year-old has racked up another 44 goals for La Liga giants Real Madrid in all competitions this season and he will be looking to impress this summer to increase his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or award later this year. The forward also scored 15 goals for his country in the qualifying rounds for this tournament and will undoubtedly be vital to their chances of success.

It was David Silva who performed best for Spain in qualifying for this tournament. He picked up five assists and five goals throughout their qualifying campaign. Isco, Álvaro Morata and Costa also grabbed themselves five goals throughout qualifying. Spain have never been reliant on one individual player and it looks as though they will be relying on their qualities as a team once again this summer. 

So who are the key players for both sides? Diego Costa is likely to be a very important player for Spain in this tournament. They really struggled at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as they were knocked out in the group stages, being humiliated 5-1 by the Netherlands in the process. One of the key reasons behind this was due to the lack of a quality striker. Costa is arguably one of the most difficult strikers to defend against in the world and his hold up play will be vital in regards to getting their midfield players on the ball. 

What better place to start than discussing Spain’s shock decision to sack head coach Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday? It was announced on Tuesday that Lopetegui would succeed Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu as he signed a three-year contract with Real Madrid. Lopetegui had been Spain manager since 2016 following Vicente del Bosque’s retirement and remained unbeaten throughout his time in charge. Spain will now have to quickly to adapt to life without him and sporting director Fernando Hierro is now set to take charge throughout the tournament. 

Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK’s live minute-by-minute coverage of this afternoon’s World Cup group stage match between Portugal and Spain at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi. The game gets underway at 7.00pm, but stick around until then because we’ll have plenty of build-up to keep you entertained. 

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