Russia 2018 - Group B

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Saint Petersburg, Russia
Saint Petersburg, Russia by Victor Malyushev on Unsplash.

Russia - Host the twenty-first World Cup, in 2018

The Ball is Round Football Index: World Cup Finals: Russia 2018: Group B.

Coverage of Group B matches during the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia between Iran, Morocco, Portugal and Spain.

2018 World Cup Finals - Group B - Fixtures and Results

Group B P W D L F/A Dif Pts
Travel to Spain Spain 3 1 2 0 6/5 +1 5
Travel to Portugal Portugal 3 1 2 0 5/4 +1 5
Travel to Iran Iran 3 1 1 1 2/2 --  4
Travel to Morocco Morocco 3 0 1 2 2/4 -2 1

Host Cities - Visit Russia.

Group B Games

Friday, 15th June

Travel to Morocco Morocco vs Iran Travel to Iran in St Petersburg (0:1)

A first half comedy of errors may have produced a few laughs but little in the way of goals.

Half-time: Morocco 0 - Iran 0

The second-half was more about frustration and niggly fouls; followed by some hard eye staring, nose to nose.

Russia 2018 The substitution merry-go-round did liven things up a little; but ironically it was the Morocco substitute, Aziz Bouhaddouz, who scored with a terrific diving header in the dying seconds of time added on - for Iran.

Iran could celebrate their first World Cup Finals victory since they beat USA (2:1) in France 98.

Travel to Portugal Portugal vs Spain Travel to Spain in Sochi (3:3)

After three servings of luke warm, Middle Eastern hors d'oeuvres, it's as if we're now on the European main course; a game four, delicious serving of Iberian specialities.

Russia 2018 Within three minutes, Ronaldo ran himself into a penalty-winning position against Nacho; won the call; looked to the heavens; ignored de Gea's jumping on the line antics; and struck the ball in the back of the net; as only Ronaldo does.

Russia 2018 Twenty minutes later, Diego Costa danced around the Portuguese defence all on his own; jiggling and teasing, as he unbalanced the opposition and slammed the ball home, from the edge of the area.

Isco almost doubled Spain's tally a couple of minutes later, as his shot thundered off the underside of the crossbar but didn't bounce over the line.

The 2018 World Cup is starting to entertain us; as Robbie Williams sang it would, at the opening ceremony in Moscow - only yesterday.

Russia 2018 Advantage Ronaldo, just before half-time, as David de Gea fumbled in his left foot strike from the edge of the area.

Half-time: Portugal 2 - Spain 1

Russia 2018 Deuce, as Diego Costa leveled Ronaldo's brace by sliding in Busquet's ball, headed down from a David Silva free-kick, ten minutes after the break.

Russia 2018 Three minutes later, Nacho redeemed himself for conceeding the early penalty by putting Spain in front; with plenty of bendy spin from the outside of his foot.

Russia 2018 And the icing on the cake came when Ronaldo struck an amazing bending, swerving over and under dipping curler of a free-kick to earn his 51st hat-trick and the 51st hat-trick in World Cup Finals history; just a couple of minutes before the final whistle.

Four added minutes still had plenty to offer but a shared point was justly deserved as Cristiano Ronaldo equalled everything Spain had to offer.

Wednesday, 20th June

Travel to Iran Iran vs Spain Travel to Spain in Kazan (0:1)

Iran, wearing red, tried to attack Spain at the start. But when Spain took a goal-kick, Iran were all back in their own half and remained there for most of the first forty-five minutes; stifling any creativity from the Spaniards.

It was about twenty minutes before Diego Costa even got a sniff of the ball, Iran were so solid at the back.

David de Gea, standing alone in the Spanish goal, must have spent most of the first-half watching the giant screen, amusing himself with some of the play-acting from the Iranian players.

The referee was good though; signalling to one player that if he was hurt in a challenge, then perhaps he should leave the field.

Half-time: Iran 0 - Spain 0

Iran gave it another go, at the start of the second-half. Then back to square one.

This time Spain seemed to find a little more space by stretching the play. Sergio Busquets fired a rocket from outside the area. Ali Beiranvand slapped the ball away and rolled around on the floor in agony when his own player slid into him.

Russia 2018 Diego Costa was all smiles in the 54th minute as he tried to shoot on the spin; the ball ricocheted off a defender, onto the Spaniard, and into the net.

Sensational scenes in the 62nd minute as Iran had the ball in the back of the net from a free kick and VAR was called in to cast the deciding vote.

Goal disallowed for an over eager offsideness.

More amazing scenes in the seventieth minute as Iran found a new way to defend the goal; sit on the ball, sit on the line; sit on each other.

Iran had a great chance to equalise. Attacking down the left, Vahid Amiri nutmegged Gerard Pique and his cross just headed over the bar by Mehdi Taremi.

Spain top the group on the 'Fair Play' rule; with fewer bookings than Portugal.

Iran are still in the World Cup, but need to beat Portugal on Monday.

Travel to Portugal Portugal vs Morocco Travel to Morocco in Moscow Luzhniki (1:0)

Russia 2018 Ronaldo likes scoring in the fourth minute. From a corner, he powered in a diving header to become the leading European scorer in international matches..

The solitary goal, along with an awesome save from Patricio, was enough to send Morocco home.

Monday, 25th June

Travel to Iran Iran vs Portugal Travel to Portugal in Saransk (1:1)

The Iranian fans tried to keep Ronaldo awake, the night before the match and almost rocked his boat with a stoppage time winner.

Ricardo Quaresma put Portugal ahead just before the break but Cristiano Ronaldo failed to extend their lead from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute.

Karim Ansarifard's stoppage time penalty gave Iran a lifeline, but Mehdi Taremi fluffed his lines and hit the side-netting just before the final whistle.

Travel to Spain Spain vs Morocco Travel to Morocco in Kaliningrad (2:2)

Spain remained top of the group despite a scare; the referee ruling out a last-minute tap-in by Iago Aspas, overruled by VAR.

Khalid Boutaib put Morocco ahead in the 14th minute and Isco replied for Spain five minutes later.

Morocco were in front again, through Youssef En-Nesyri, in the 81st minute before VAR came to Spain's rescue in stoppage time.

Second Round - Round of 16

Saturday, 30th June

Travel to Uruguay Uruguay vs Portugal Travel to Portugal in Sochi (2:1)

Ronaldo didn't get on the scoresheet and Portugal didn't make it through to the next round.

Sunday, 1st July

Travel to Spain Spain vs Russia Travel to Russia in Moscow Luzhniki (1:1 aet 3:4 pens)

Spain were not good enough to break Russia down and joined Portugal on the flight back to Iberia.

Russia 2018 World Cup Groups

Group A - Group B - Group C - Group D - Group E - Group F - Group G - Group H.

World Cup Finals

Uruguay 1930:
Uruguay trailed Argentina at half-time (1:2) but replied with three goals in the second half; to win the first ever World Cup Final (4-2) on July 30th, 1930.

Italy 1934:
Italy were one of the countries who missed out on the vote to host the first World Cup but managed to win the prestigious golden trophy for the home fans.

France 1938:
The third World Cup was held in Europe for a second time, although Germany had annexed Austria, and Spain was in civil turmoil.

Brazil 1950:
Although no cup-final as such, Uruguay and Brazil went into their final game with the winner guaranteed to be champions; a draw would be enough for Brazil.

Switzerland 1954:
The fifth World Cup tournament produced a record number of goals, including a 7:5 encounter between Austria and Switzerland in Lausanne.

Sweden 1958:
Brazil presented a 17 year-old Pele to the world; who went on to claim a hat-trick in Brazil's 5:2 semi-final win over France and bag another two in the final.

Chile 1962:
Czechoslovakia overcame Hungary in the quarter-finals and Yugoslavia in the semis, while Brazil took care of England and the host nation, Chile.

England 1966:
Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick, in the final against West Germany, as England triumphed in a thrilling game watched by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Mexico 1970:
1970 belonged to Pelé, who earned his third World Cup winners' medal when Brazil got their hands on the Jules Rimet Cup.... for keeps.

W. Germany 1974:
Johan Cruyff was the player of the tournament as total football became the buzzword of the day, even though Holland lost to West Germany in the 1974 final.

Argentina 1978:
Holland contested the 1978 World Cup Final, in Argentina, for the second time in a row. As in West Germany, they again finished runners-up; to the hosts.

Spain 1982:
The Spain 82 World Cup finals increased to 24 teams and the format was changed to have two group stages, with four second-round groups of three.

Mexico 1986:
In 1986, Mexico became the first nation to stage the World Cup Finals for a second time; having only staged the competition sixteen years previously.

Italy 1990:
In 1990, Italy became the World Cup of stalemates. Both semi-finals were drawn out through penalty kicks. In the final itself, the only goal came from the spot.

USA 1994:
Once Team US had played a few games most of the nation began to understand they were hosting the greatest show on earth and how the game was played.

France 1998:
France became the sixth nation to win the World Cup on home soil. Thirty-two teams competed in the 16th World Cup; better known as France 98.

Korea-Japan 2002:
The 17th World Cup, held in Korea and Japan, was the first World Cup finals to be shared by two hosts and the first to be held in Asia.

Germany 2006:
The 2006 World Cup Finals ran from 9th June to 9th July; the opening match in Munich and the final in Berlin. Munich and Dortmund hosted the semi-finals.

South Africa 2010:
Eighty years after the First World Cup Finals in Uruguay, the world's most prestigious football competition was finally hosted on the African continent.

Brazil 2014:
Five times World Cup Champions, Brazil, get a second chance to hold the prestigious World Cup Finals; 64 years after they last hosted the tournament.

Russia 2018:
VAR made its World Cup debut and set out to change the course of a game with some crucial rule infringement watching and vital on the spot decisions.

Qatar 2022:
When FIFA executives met in Zurich to decide on who would host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup Finals, Qatar was probably the biggest surprise to many.

United 2026:
The 2026 FIFA World Cup Finals will be jointly hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States. The United Bid won the hosting rights ahead of Morocco.

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