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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

World Cup 2018: Day 7 as it happened - Spain and Portugal win

Portugal ready for Morocco, Uruguay take on Saudi Arabia and Iran face Spain. Watch this space for live updates

Diego Costa celebrates after scoring Spain's opening goal against Iran. Sergio Perez / Reuters
Diego Costa celebrates after scoring Spain's opening goal against Iran. Sergio Perez / Reuters

12.10am: Day 7 in the books

The first week of the 2018 World Cup has now been completed, and there were no shocks on Day 7 as Uruguay beat Saudi Arabia, Portugal edged Morocco, and Spain defeated Iran.

Thursday sees Lionel Messi back in action as Argentina take on Croatia in Group D after Denmark face Australia, and France play Peru in Group B.

The National's John McAuley has previewed Argentina v Croatia as Zlatko Dalic describes his side's clash with Messi and Co as their "easiest match" of the tournament.

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12am: FT: Spain 1 Iran 0

Spain have battled their way to victory, but for all of their dominance, it took a fortuitous goal by Diego Costa to get the job done.

Read the match report here

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10.45pm: A frustrating first half for Spain

Can't wait to see the first half stats from Iran v Spain. If Iran had more than 20 per cent possession we'll be shocked.

It's been one-way traffic for Spain, but fair play to Iran who have held their lines superbly. Surely it's a matter of time before the former world champions find a way through. Right?

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9.45pm: 'Suarez the scourge of the Middle East'

Before we turn our attention to the final match of Day 7 between Iran and Spian, have aread of Richard Jolly's report from Uruguay v Saudi Arabia below:

Centurion Suarez strikes for Uruguay to send Saudi Arabia and Egypt out of World Cup

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8.55pm: FT: Uruguay 1 Saudi Arabia 0

Luis Suarez's first half goal, delivered on his 100th appearance for Uruguay, the difference between the two sides at the Rostov Arena.

ANd the result means Saudi Arabia and Egypt are OUT of the 2018 World Cup, joining Morocco on an early plane home.

Richard Jolly's report and analysis to follow shortly.

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6.45pm: Continental drift: Africa's World Cup struggles

As Morocco become the first nation to bow out of the 2018 World Cup, Egypt on the brink of joining them, and Tunisia and Nigeria both losing their openers, it's been a tough tournament for the African sides. Senegal have been the sole representative to shine in Russia so far.

Read Ian Hawkey's analysis of why the African teams are failing to make an impact.

Mohamed Salah's World Cup was over too soon after Egypt's defeats to Uruguay and Russia. Alex Livesey / Getty Images
Mohamed Salah's World Cup was over too soon after Egypt's defeats to Uruguay and Russia. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

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6.30pm: Next up, Uruguay v Saudi Arabia

One game on Day 7 down, two to go - and next up is Uruguay v Saudi Arabia in Group A.

With half an hour to kick-off, familiarise yourself with the two starting XIs:

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6.10pm: 'Ronaldo on a mission'

As promised, here is John McAuley's match report from Portugal's Group B win over Morocco:

Cristiano Ronaldo on target and on a mission to single-handedly win the World Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo, right, at full time after his goal led Portugal to victory over Morocco. Carl Recine / Reuters
Cristiano Ronaldo, right, at full time after his goal led Portugal to victory over Morocco. Carl Recine / Reuters

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5.55pm: FT: Portugal 1 Morocco 0

Cristiano Ronaldo's first half header proved the difference between the two sides as Portugal claim their first win of the 2018 World Cup following their opening round draw with Spain.

Defeat for Morocco proves fatal after their previous defeat to Iran, and the African side are the first to be eliminated from the tournament.

Sit tight for the full match report from The National's John McAuley coming soon.

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4.50pm: HT: Portugal 1 Morocco 0

Cristiano Ronaldo (seriously, who else?) is the difference-maker at the interval after the Real Madrid superstar headed home in the fourth minute.

Morocco have had a few decent chances to equalise, so they're far from out of this contest.

All set up for a promising second half.

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4.05pm: Ronaldo scores as Portugal take 1-0 lead

What a header from Ronaldo as he scores for Portugal to take a 1-0 lead against Morocco.

A short corner is passed to Joao Moutinho, who curls it in and Ronaldo dives and heads the ball in.

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3.45pm: Messi and Argentina train

Even as Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portuguese teammates prepare to spar with Morocco on the pitch, the other great football player of his generation not to have won a World Cup yet went through a rigorous training session with his teammates.

Lionel Messi and his fellow Argentine players were in the thick of it ahead of their crucial game against Croatia tomorrow. We have put together a photo gallery for you. Check it out below.

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3.25pm: Portugal v Morocco starting line-ups

Portugal (4-4-2)

Rui Patricio; Cedric, Pepe, Jose Fonte, Raphael Guerreiro; Joao Moutinho, William Carvalho, Joao Mario, Bernardo Silva; Goncalo Guedes, Cristiano Ronaldo (capt)

Manager: Fernando Santos (POR)

Morocco (4-2-3-1)

Monir El Kajoui; Nabil Dirar, Mehdi Benatia (capt), Manuel Da Costa, Achraf Hakimi; Mbark Boussoufa, Karim El Ahmadi; Nordin Amrabat, Younes Belhanda, Hakim Ziyach; Khalid Boutaib

Manager: Herve Renard (FRA)

Referee: Mark Geiger (USA)

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2.47pm: Nigerian fan anger over power cut

Football-loving Nigerians had more than one reason to groan about the country's opening World Cup game: not only did they lose 2-0, many weren't even able to see the whole match.

Some viewers complained that seasonal rains affected the signal to the satellite television channel broadcasting Saturday's match against Croatia.

Then, the power went off completely.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said six power plants were shut down to prevent the "collapse" of the national grid following a pipeline failure and unspecified "technical issues".

The TCN said gas was "gradually building up in most generating stations and in a day or two days it is expected that gas and power supply would be back to normal".

But the widespread blackout, which forced those who could afford it to turn to expensive diesel-powered generators, once again highlighted Nigeria's perennial electricity problem.

Victor Moses and his Nigerian side were beaten by Croatia. Alex Livesey / Getty Images
Victor Moses and his Nigerian side were beaten by Croatia. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

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2.45pm: Iceland filmmaker-turned-keeper has a flair for the dramatic

Iceland filmmaker-turned-goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson showcased his skill at creating drama in his side's 1-1 World Cup draw against Argentina, taking centre stage as he saved a penalty from Lionel Messi in front of millions of TV viewers.

To complement the modest wages on offer as he started his career in the domestic league, the 34-year-old net-minder worked in the film business before going full-time as a professional footballer when he moved to Norway in 2012.

Back home in Iceland, 99.6 per cent of the country's TV viewers saw him stop Messi's shot as the tiny island nation made their World Cup debut on Saturday.

"Many footballers, when they play in the Icelandic league, they have a job on the side, it's a semi-professional league," Haldorsson said ahead of Iceland's clash with Nigeria on Friday.

"My job just happened to be a filmmaker. I always had a passion for it when I was young, and that's what I got sucked into after high school," he added.

Plenty of players in the squad have followed the same path through the semi-professional ranks as Halldorsson, and manager Heimir Hallgrimsson still practises as a dentist when he has the time.

"I'm not an expert in which jobs the players have, but I think filmmaker must be up there among the strangest - it's not a usual combination, footballer and filmmaker," Halldorsson said.

Full story here.

Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson will be famous for having saved a penalty from Argentina's Lionel Messi. Matthias Hangst / Getty Images
Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson will be famous for having saved a penalty from Argentina's Lionel Messi. Matthias Hangst / Getty Images

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12.45pm: Mane and co owe class of 2002 huge debt

Staying with the Senegal theme, deputy sports editor Steve Luckings writes why the pool of players Aliou Cisse has at his disposal as manager in Russia 2018 are more seasoned and travelled than the ones he called teammates back in the 2002 tournament.

But the impact of that team - who famously beat France in Seoul 16 years ago - on this modern day Senegal should never be underestimated.

You can read Luckings' must-read piece by clicking on this link.

Idrissa Gueye, second left, created Senegal's first goal when his shot was deflected in during the 2-1 win over Poland. Felipe Trueba / EPA
Idrissa Gueye, second left, created Senegal's first goal when his shot was deflected in during the 2-1 win over Poland. Felipe Trueba / EPA

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12.15pm: Senegal fans show the way in Russia

Cleanliness is godliness, as the saying goes.

Japanese fans received plenty of applause and acknowledgement for cleaning up the stands they had occupied during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Four years later it is the turn of the Senegal supporters to teach a great lesson in civic responsibility, as this tweet shows. Kudos to them.

Meanwhile, here is a link to a story we had published on how the habit of cleaning up after had a positive impact on the so-called football 'ultras' in the city of Genoa. Click here for full story - it is well worth a read.

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11.30am: Utter dejection among Egypt fans

Many Egyptians had thrown their weight behind Mohamed Salah, who broke records in the Premier League last season with Liverpool, to score for Egypt on football's biggest stage when they took on Russia on Tuesday night.

Salah, who had a subdued game on his return from injury, found the back of the net once in a penalty shot awarded to Egypt after a VAR ruled he was brought down by Roman Zobnin.

But the excitement that gripped the streets of downtown Cairo ahead of the match slowly subsided as the game dragged on, with many fans critisising manager Hector Cuper's tactics as ultimately losing them the game.

For full story click here, watch video below.

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9.45am: Day 7 is here

'Morning all!

What a day of joy for some teams and heartbreak for others during Day 6 of the World Cup. Some of us may revel in the triumphs of Japan, Senegal and Russia.

The hosts in particular had inspired little confidence ahead of their showpiece event. But they are now on two wins from two games and staring at almost certain qualification for the knockout stages.

Spare a thought, too, for the vanquished: Colombia, Poland and Egypt. And for Mohamed Salah, the superb Egypt striker, who made a comeback from injury and scored a goal but could not inspire his team to victory.

You can read all about Japan's win over Colombia here. We also bring you our English football correspondent Richard Jolly's superb piece on Senegal's win over Poland.

Our main man in Russia, John McAuley, has a report and a reactions piece following Egypt's defeat to Russia.

And while you're having your morning cup of coffee, tea or any other beverage of choice, don't forget to go through our London editor Seth Jacobson's delightful commentary on Day 6's action here.

Also online is our web editor Ian Oxborrow's compilation of pictures illustrating the contrasting emotions of Salah during their game against the Russians. Click here for the photo gallery.

Saudi Arabia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi needs a win today. Shawn Thew / EPA
Saudi Arabia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi needs a win today. Shawn Thew / EPA

Today's action

The second round of round-robin group games continues today, starting with Portugal's match against Morocco at 4pm at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. While Cristiano Ronaldo's side are favourites to win, particularly after their draw against Spain, Morocco could prove to be doughty opponents.

Then Uruguay take on Saudi Arabia, with the Arabian Gulf team under pressure to beat a South American side that includes Luis Suarez at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-On-Don. The Saudis need to win to keep their World Cup dream alive after a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Russia last Thursday.

The late game is between Iran and Spain at the Kazan Arena in Kazan, which again - on paper - seems like a one-sided affair. But this is the World Cup and no result can be assured. Just ask the Argentines, Germans, Brazilians and - yes - the Russians.

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DOWNLOAD

While you stay tuned to what's coming up, why don't you download our wall chart to keep track of the games? You can get it here.

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Oh, and do you need a one-stop shop for everything from predictions, group guides, picture galleries and where to watch all 64 games in the UAE?

You're in luck then.

Visit our World Cup landing page to read expert opinion and features throughout the June 14-July 15 tournament.

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