MOSCOW :10:55 p.m. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick, capped by a dipping free kick in the 88th?minute as Portugal and Spain played to a wild 3-3 draw in the Group B opener for both countries.?
Ronaldo scored twice in the first half, only to see Spain rally for a 3-2 lead after two goals in three minutes early in the second half. Nacho Fernandez put Spain in front with a weaving half-volley from outside the penalty area in the 58th? that bounced off the inside of the far post and trickled into the net.?
Ronaldo had one more brilliant moment to come. Earning a free kick from about 20 yards out, Ronaldo’s shot got just high enough over the wall and dipped under the crossbar. Goalkeeper David De Gea never moved and the Iberian neighbors each earned a point.?
Ronaldo scored on a penalty kick he earned in the fourth minute and again just before halftime on a left-footed shot from the top of the penalty area that De Gea should have saved.?
Diego Costa scored twice for the Spaniards, including a 55th-minute tally off a beautiful set piece set up by Andres Iniesta’s chip to the end line and a Sergio Busquets header back into the middle of the penalty area.
The draw capped a week of turmoil for Spain after the firing of coach Julen Lopetegui.?
Chicken on plates, no problem. In the stadiums, not so much.
A Russian official in the city of Kaliningrad says authorities forbade World Cup fans from bringing live chickens to matches.
Some fans sometimes dye chickens in the national colors as a good luck symbol, including those from Nigeria, who play Argentina on Saturday in Kaliningrad.
Russia’s Interfax news agency quotes regional culture and tourism minister Andrei Yermak as saying “fans from Nigeria asked whether they could bring a chicken to the stadium. It’s their symbol and people support the team with them at all the games. We told them they can’t bring a live chicken at all.”
If Nigerian fans want to support their team elsewhere, Yermak says a government advice hotline can “advise them where to buy a chicken. We’re prepared to satisfy even the most eccentric requests.”
Spain is in front for the first time after scoring twice in three minutes to take a 3-2 lead over Portugal.
Diego Costa scored his second of the match in the 55th minute off a set piece to equalize at 2-2. Moments later Nacho Fernandez perfectly hit a half-volley from just outside the area off the inside of the far post and into the net to give Spain the lead.
It was a beautiful set play off a free kick from about 30 yards that pulled Spain even. Andres Iniesta chipped to Sergio Busquets, who was able to send a header back in front of goal for Costa to finish.
Fernandez’s goal came off a deflected clearance and was a superb strike.
It’s halftime in Sochi where Portugal has a 2-1 lead behind a pair of goals from Cristiano Ronaldo.??
Ronaldo became the fourth player in World Cup history to score in four different tournaments when he drew a penalty and scored in the fourth minute, sending Spain goalkeeper David De Gea the wrong direction. De Gea later made a mess of Ronaldo’s left-footed shot from the top of the penalty area in the 44th?minute, a low shot he should have saved but allowed to glance off him into the net.?
Diego Costa pulled Spain even in the 24th?minute with a brilliant individual effort cutting back three times to shake Portugal defenders and beating Rui Patricio with a right-footed shot.
Spain had the bulk of chances for the final 20 minutes of the half, including Francisco “Isco” Alarcon’s shot that hit the underside of the crossbar and dropped straight down, never fully crossing the goal line.?Isco complained about the call until referee Gianluca Rocci pointed to his watch to indicate that he had already checked via goal-line technology.
An impressive individual effort from Diego Costa has pulled Spain even with Portugal in the 24th minute.
Costa collided with Pepe to win a header deep in Portugal’s end. He then cut back three times to shake free from two other Portugal defenders before beating goalkeeper Rui Patricio with a right-footed shot for his first World Cup goal.
It was the first time at the World Cup that a referee clearly consulted with the video assistant. Officials determined there was no clear error and the goal stood.
This World Cup is the first to use that video review process.
It hasn’t taken long for Cristiano Ronaldo to put Portugal in front.
Ronaldo was fouled by Nacho Fernandez in the penalty area in the opening moments of the match and converted the penalty to give Portugal a 1-0 lead after just four minutes.
Ronaldo used a step-over move to freeze Fernandez and was clipped as he went past his Real Madrid teammate. Ronaldo’s shot went to the left of Spain goalkeeper David De Gea, who dived in the opposite direction.
It is the fourth World Cup Ronaldo has scored in.
Croatia captain Luka Modric appeared riled when asked at a pre-match news conference about a corruption case that left him facing perjury charges.
Asked if a six-and-a-half-year sentence handed this month to former Dinamo Zagreb director Zdravko Mamic for embezzlement and tax evasion was a cloud over the Croatia team, Modric responded: “Nothing smarter to ask?”
He added: “It’s a World Cup – it’s not about other things.”
Modric faces perjury charges for testimony he gave during the trial about his financial deals with Mamic. Prosecutors claimed Modric gave a false court statement in June last year about his 2008 transfer from Dinamo to Tottenham. Modric has denied any wrongdoing.
Croatia faces Nigeria on Saturday in the teams’ Group D opener in Kaliningrad.
Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand could not quite believe it when his team’s winning goal went in five minutes into injury time against Morocco.
He stood perfectly still in his penalty area, hands on his head as he watched the delirious scenes of celebration unfolding before him.
Veteran coach Carlos Queiroz showed speed belying his 65 years, leaping off the bench to pump his fists when the goal went in for the -o victory.
Substitutes poured off Iran’s bench to join in the celebrations at the final whistle as the team’s fans made a raucous noise befitting only their second ever win at a World Cup match.
Iran players sportingly found the time to console their distraught Moroccan opponents, many of whom stood around in stunned disbelief.
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has named his team to play Iceland in Moscow on Saturday, and it includes forward Sergio Aguero.
Aguero’s prolific season with English champion Manchester City ended in March to have knee surgery. He returned – and scored – against Haiti two weeks ago in a warmup game.
Sampaoli tells a Spartak Stadium news conference that secrecy is not needed because “we knew what we wanted to do.”
“I don’t believe it’s necessary to hide this information,” says the coach, who is working at his second World Cup. He led Chile four years ago to a Round of 16 loss on penalties against host Brazil.
Sampaoli also opted for Willy Caballero as goalkeeper to replace injured first-choice Sergio Romero. Caballero spent the season at Chelsea as backup to Thibaut Courtois.
Argentina lineup: Willy Caballero, Eduardo Salvio, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico, Maximiliano Meza, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Biglia, Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero.
Aziz Bouhaddouz headed a free kick into his own net in the fifth minute of injury time to gift Iran a 1-0 win over Morocco at the World Cup.
Only on the field as a 77th-minute substitute, the Morocco striker dived to reach a curling cross from the left but wound up glancing a header past goalkeeper Monir El Kajoui.
There was an explosion of joy among the Iranian squad, with coaching staff and substitutes sprinting onto the field and jumping.
It was only Iran’s second win in 13 matches at the World Cup and the first win for an Asian team in the tournament since 2010.
With Spain and Portugal the other teams in Group B, Friday’s match was regarded as a must-win game in St. Petersburg for two of the tournament outsiders.
Nigeria’s coach and captain have brushed aside concerns over racism in World Cup stadiums and say that the country’s young players have enjoyed a warm welcome in Russia.
A report last month said 19 incidents of racist chants were recorded in Russia this season including monkey noises directed at France players and racial abuse directed by Spartak Moscow supporters at Liverpool youth player Bobby Adekanye.
Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel, however, says his team has been welcomed to Russia with open arms.
He says that “Russian people have been very nice to us – a lot of Russian supporters seem to support the Nigerian team.”
Iranian activists are using their national team’s first match at the World Cup to protest Iran’s ban on women attending soccer matches.
Fans unfurled a protest banner at the stadium Friday in the Russian city of St. Petersburg during Iran’s opening match against Morocco, prompting a brief commotion. It read “#NoBan4Women” and “Support Iranian Women to Attend Stadiums.”
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iranian women have been banned from attending football matches and other male-only sporting events.
Ahead of Friday’s match, fans from Iran and Morocco mingled on the streets of Russia’s northern capital, wearing their countries’ flags, blowing whistles and chanting songs. Enthusiastic Iranian women were among them.
That contrasted with the one of the main squares in Tehran, where a billboard portrays fans celebrating and holding aloft the World Cup, accompanied by the slogan “One nation, one heartbeat.” There were no women on it.
Iran weathered early pressure from Morocco before missing a late opportunity as the teams went into halftime locked at 0-0 in Group B of the World Cup on Friday.
Playing in their first World Cup in 20 years, Morocco made a great start in St. Petersburg and created a series of half-chances – notably when successive close-range efforts from Younes Belhanda and Mehdi Benatia were blocked in a goalmouth scramble.
Iran gradually came into the game and just before halftime, star striker Sardar Azmoun was played through on goal – only for goalkeeper Monir El Kajoui to make a sprawling save.
Both teams entered the World Cup with strong defensive records, so a goalless score line wasn’t entirely surprising.
More than 5,000 people with tickets skipped Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Egypt in the opening game at Yekaterinburg.
FIFA says it is investigating why, with “no-shows” one of the factors.
Pockets of orange seats were clearly visible in the lower tiers of the stadium which has a 33,061 capacity for World Cup games.
FIFA says it allocated 32,278 tickets and the official attendance was 27,015 for the 5 p.m. local time (1200 GMT) kickoff.
FIFA is trying to stop the pirating of Qatari-owned World Cup broadcasting rights, in fallout from the emirate’s diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia.
The BeIN network, a sports spinoff from Al Jazeera, owns exclusive Middle East and North African rights to this World Cup, and the 2022 edition which Qatar will host.
However, BeIN’s signal is widely blocked since a Saudi-led economic blockade of Qatar began last year.
FIFA says “a pirate channel named BeoutQ has illegally distributed the opening matches” from Russia, which featured Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Football’s world body is “exploring all options to stop the infringement of its rights,” and warns of “action against legitimate organizations” supporting illegal activities.
The dispute is unresolved despite FIFA’s close recent relations with Saudi Arabia.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino watched Russia’s 5-0 win Thursday with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.
Defender Jose Gimenez came to Uruguay’s rescue scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over Egypt in their Group A opening game at the World Cup on Friday.
Gimenez rose in the area to head home a free kick in the closing minutes of the match in Yekaterinburg.
The result leaves Russia atop of the group with three points after routing Saudi Arabia 5-0 on Thursday. Uruguay also has three points while Egypt and Saudi Arabia have none.
Star forward Mohamed Salah was on the bench for Egypt’s first World Cup game since 1990 after injuring a shoulder while playing for Liverpool in last month’s Champions League final.
At the other end, Uruguay star strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani wasted their chances. Suarez failed to beat goalkeeper Mohamed El Shennawy in two one-on-one situations and Cavani hit the post from a free kick with two minutes left.
Egypt is yet to win a World Cup game while Uruguay won its opening World Cup game for the first time since 1970.
Australia coach Bert van Marwijk has a simple message for his players ahead of their World Cup opening game against France: Just be yourselves and play with guts.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of Saturday’s Group C match in Kazan, Van Marwijk urged his players to believe that an upset is possible against star-studded France.
He says “We must have the guts to believe in something,” and adds “We realize that we play against an opponent that has the chance to win the World Cup but not always the best players win prizes, lots of times the best teams.”
Van Marwijk did not give any indication about his lineup amid speculation captain Mile Jedinak would not start after he was replaced at the last minute by Mathew Leckie to attend the news conference.
The 33-year-old Jedinak has been Australia captain since May 2014 but did not start in the side’s two most recent friendlies.
Dutch football fans don’t have much to cheer about at the World Cup, after their national team failed to qualify for the tournament in Russia. At least they had one Dutchman on the pitch Friday as referee Bjorn Kuipers officiated over Egypt and Uruguay’s Group A opener.
Kuipers had two Dutch assistants running the lines and countryman Danny Makkelie acting as the video assistant referee.
Kuipers refereed this season’s Europa League final, when Uruguay captain Diego Godin and fellow defender Jose Gimenez won the cup as Atletico Madrid beat Marseille 3-0.
Russia’s team says a scan has confirmed creative midfielder Alan Dzagoev sustained a hamstring injury in the opening World Cup win over Saudi Arabia.
The team says Dzagoev underwent an MRI scan on Friday and “a timeframe for his treatment will be determined in the coming days.”
Dzagoev would have to recovery quickly in order to play any further part in Russia’s group games against Egypt on June 19 and Uruguay six days later.
The injury to the 27-year-old CSKA Moscow midfielder meant winger Denis Cheryshev was brought on against Saudi Arabia. He then scored two goals.
Iceland is showing the charming, funny, friendly style that has won friends worldwide ahead of a World Cup debut against Argentina.
Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson acknowledges a “headache” preparing to face Lionel Messi on Saturday in “the biggest game in the history of Icelandic football.”
Hallgrimsson also knows the Nordic island of 330,000 people has global support from its fairytale run at the 2016 European Championships.
“It’s a pretty little nation and pretty people in general. You can’t but love us,” the coach said in Icelandic at a packed news conference at Spartak Stadium.
If Iceland really is every neutral’s favorite at the World Cup, it might be the only army it needs.
“We haven’t attacked anyone, we haven’t been at war with anyone,” Hallgrimsson said, before citing a 1970s fisheries dispute with Britain. “We have only had the Cod War and nobody got hurt there.”
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez entered this World Cup in search of redemption following a championship history checkered with bad boy moments on the pitch.
So far he’s getting no love from fans of opposing Egypt. The Pharaohs’ faithful greeted him with a sustained chorus of boos when he announced as a Uruguay starter.
Suarez was cast into the role of villain beginning with the 2010 World Cup when his blatant handball prevented a Ghana goal and eventually denied the African team a chance to advance.
Four years later, he earned a nine-match ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in Brazil. The referee didn’t catch the incident and yielded a corner to Uruguay, allowing it to score and eliminate Italy from the tournament.
Egypt supporters were equally boisterous in cheering their striker Mohamed Salah when he walked onto the field. Salah was in uniform but not starting as he recovers from an injury.
U.S. President Donald Trump says he worked hard on the effort to bring the 2026 World Cup to North America and thanked Bob Kraft, owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots and Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution.
Trump signed letters to FIFA President Gianni Infantino expressing confidence World Cup delegations and fans would be welcomed for the tournament. Although of no legal force, the letters were used in lobbying by the U.S. Soccer Federation and the joint North American bid competed against Morocco’s. The North American bid won 134-65 in voting by FIFA members on Wednesday.
Trump tweeted Friday “Thank you for all of the compliments on getting the World Cup to come to the U.S.A., Mexico and Canada. I worked hard on this, along with a Great Team of talented people. We never fail, and it will be a great World Cup! A special thanks to Bob Kraft for excellent advice.”
Kraft became honorary chairman of the bid last July, worked to obtain U.S. government support and helped gain the support of federations.
France coach Didier Deschamps has always been clear with his players since taking charge six years ago: there is no “I” in team.
Deschamps, however, has made an exception with Antoine Griezmann, stopping short of criticizing the star striker a day after he theatrically announced his decision to stay with Atletico Madrid during a television show. The program, called “The Decision,” was broadcast on Spanish TV on Thursday, just two days before France’s opening World Cup game against Australia.
Griezmann has been mocked on social media for the way he promoted his announcement in the 45-minute special that included footage of him getting a tattoo and eating popcorn.
Asked about what he thought about the timing of his player’s announcement, Deschamps said he didn’t care. He said that “it’s a very good thing for his club. You might think the format (he picked) matters. I’m more interested in the substance.”
Mohamed Salah is on the bench for Egypt’s first World Cup game since 1990 after injuring a shoulder while playing for Liverpool in last month’s Champions League final.
Salah was the Premier League Player of the Season after scoring a league-leading 32 goals and 44 in all for Liverpool last season.
He left the Champions League final in tears on May 26 after he was injured by Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos in a challenge by the Spaniard.
The head of the Palestinian Football Association faces FIFA punishment for urging fans to burn photos of Lionel Messi if Argentina played a World Cup warmup game in Jerusalem.
FIFA says it opened disciplinary proceedings against PFA president Jibril Rajoub because of comments “widely reported in the media.”
Argentina called off a game against Israel earlier this month after protests by pro-Palestinian groups.
Rajoub had called for Arab and Muslim fans to burn photos and T-shirts of Messi, the Argentina and Barcelona superstar, if he played.
FIFA did not specify when the case will be judged.
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca will not commit to playing recently reinstated striker Paolo Guerrero in their World Cup opener against Denmark.
Gareca promises only that if Peru’s all-time goal scorer gets into the game, he’ll be fit and ready.
The 34-year-old Guerrero was allowed to play in the World Cup only after a doping suspension was frozen by a Swiss Supreme Court judge.
The striker has played few games since FIFA’s initial suspension in November.
Team captains of Peru’s rivals in Group C recently asked FIFA to lift Guerrero’s suspension so he could play against France, Denmark and Australia. Guerrero has blamed his test failure on a tainted cup of tea at a Lima hotel.
Costa Rica defender Ronald Matarrita has been ruled out of the World Cup because of a right hamstring injury and will be replaced by Kenner Gutierrez.
Matarrita, who plays for NYCFC and was one of six players from Major League Soccer on the Costa Rica roster, will miss at least two weeks.
Costa Rica is preparing to play Serbia in its World Cup opener on Sunday in Samara. The Ticos are hoping to improve on their finish at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when they advanced to the quarterfinals.