World Cup 2018: CR7’s Hat Trick, Nacho’s Golazo, Iran Tops Group B, Russia Celebrates & an Englishman Dreams of a World Cup Final — nudge, nudge, wink, wink!
CR7, aka Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro.
Of course, it had to be him, scoring the opener from a PK in the Iberian group stage Classico, Portugal vs Spain. The Navigators (2016 European Championship holders) vs La Roja (2010 World Cup champs).
CR7 knows many of the Spanish players as he either plays with them (for Real Madrid) or against them (La Liga rivals). But the man who superseded him in the recent Champions League final, Welshman Gareth Bale, isn’t here as his Red Dragons didn’t qualify — along with Italy’s Azzurri, Netherlands, Chile and, the USA. So, with no Bale to upend his giant sized locker of skills and even bigger ego, Ronaldo is looking for Russia 2018 to be his platform.
And, here he is as Portugal captain, holding the national team record for most caps and for most goals, taking free kicks, penalty kicks, berating his fellow Portugal teammates. The story goes that he was given the “Ronaldo” name by his father who liked American actor/later President “Ronald” Reagan — who knew?
Then much-loathed striker Diego Costa (Brazilian-born Spanish import) casually elbows a rival defender and niftily notches Spain’s equalizer. Spain comes close again and again. But, against the run of play, he’s at it again — CR7 shooting from distance, and Spain’s elite goalie David de Gea fumbles the ball into his net. Ronaldo’s Portugal 2–1 Spain at halftime.
[Earlier in the day, Egypt’s Salah-less team succumbed 0–1 at the death to Uruguay (ouch!) And, an injury time own goal (double ouch!) gave Iran the win and a heartbreaking loss to Morocco.]
Back to the Iberian classic. Early in the second half, Costa matches CR7, and gleefully prods in Spain’s equalizer and his second. Shortly after, GOLAZO — after some lovely Spanish tiki-taka, Nacho, who’d earlier given away the PK, picks up a loose ball and sends in a screamer. Revenge is a dish best served cold. CR7 is apoplectic. Now, it’s Portugal 2–3 Spain. What a game and, not over!
After all those pyrotechnics, the game seems to be fizzling out, and Portugal buried with Spain controlling possession (67%). Until, you guessed it — CR7 bends it like Beckham to hit his hat trick and the equalizer. Now, 3–3, and that’s how it finishes with goalie de Gea dodgy on two goals. Wow! And, Iran tops Group B after all four teams played! Wow, Wow!
Now, for us fans of England, who play their opener against Tunisia on Monday, here’s an excerpt of a story/dream by Dan Goldsworthy, an Englishman who lives in Scotland—Braveheart’s William Wallace would be turning over in his grave— and supports a North London club team (Tottenham).
In “Alan Partridge-like” bumbling but hilarious style, Goldsworthy writes:
“My Dream about an England vs Germany Soccer World Cup Final — Picture the scene if you will: Moscow, Russia. The date is the 15th of July, 2018. Eleven lions plus some subs stand proudly in a line, hands clasped behind their backs in a manner more seen in humans than lions. The atmosphere is so thick you could cut it with a knife — it wouldn’t even have to be that sharp, which is fortunate given only plastic knives are allowed in the stadium. This (pause)… is the World Cup Final. The English national anthem begins: ‘…something VICTORRRIOUS, and we are GLORRRIOUS, one two rain OVER US, GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!’
“England defenceman Phil Jones still hasn’t learned all the words, but his mixture of shouts and mumbles perfectly demonstrate the utilization of passion over skill in the face of adversity, and there is nothing more English than that.
“PEEEEEEEP! The pea in the referee’s whistle bounces violently round its metal housing like a drunken England fan in a whistle-shaped pub, and the Germany soccer team kick off. My dad and I can barely watch. Even my gran can barely watch — although that is mostly due to cataracts — yet even she can see that Germany are looking far stronger during the opening salvos…”
If this scenario smells of a familiar horror show, but you want to read the rest, anyway, go to Goldsworthy’s worthwhile full post on Facebook.
So, heading into the weekend, after the hosts’ rousing 5–0 shellacking of the Saudis in Thursday’s opener, Russia 2018 and the beautiful game rules okay! And, VAR hasn’t spoiled anyone’s fun!