One of the most anticipated fixture had it all. The goals, the drama, the fights, the joy, the disappointment and what not. Spain already looked under pressure after recent controversial sacking of the then Coach, Julen Lopetegui and shock appointment of Hierro, and people had their doubts on how this team would be able to cope with the shock exit of their coach. The defending Euro Cup champions Portugal on the other hand were determined to leave their mark in the match. Honestly, the Game didn’t disappoint any football fan out there, and here are the five talking points from the tie.
1. The Goal Machine.
The grass is a bit damp, he can feel the blood pumping through his veins, his heart pounding in his chest and the grass underneath his feet. He can listen to the screams, the cries, the prayers, but the only thing he sees in front him are the four steps that separates him from glory. He takes a deep breath but his heartbeat is off the charts.
Another deep breath.
He leans in knowing there is nothing that can stop this now.
Right foot forward. Left, right, left.
He swings his right foot. His laces kissing the ball.
The best goalkeeper in the world can just look and admire what he has faced today.
When Douglas Mc Arthur said “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone” he had not watched this lad from Madeira carry an entire nation on his back. Only a few people in the entire world have the ability to do that. And boy wasn’t it Cristiano Ronaldo at it again tonight. It was something too special to describe in simple words. Be it the steel cold nerves with the penalty, the powerful low shot that had De Gea scrambling, the moment of sheer brilliance with the free kick and numerous records he broke in 90 minutes of scintillating football; one thing is absolutely clear – if you want a handbook on how to be a great leader, watch Cristiano Ronaldo play for he has the confidence to stand alone.
2. The Blunder.
One of the shocking moment of the match and quite possibly the one that cost Spain. David De Gea failed to stop a Cristiano Ronaldo shot just before Halftime. A rare error for the Spaniard Keeper who is one of the best in business between the posts. Portugal went 2-1 leading at halftime with both the goals from the Captain Charisma CR7 and One for Spain as Diego Costa Cancelled out Ronaldo’s 3rd min Penalty.
3. The Spanish Armada.
There were doubts about Diego Costa’s contribution as a ST and he smashed them all to bits. The Spanish Armada scored his first after winning the long ball in the air against Pepe and then found his way towards the goal and scores past the defence and Rui Patricio.
The Second Goal also scored by Costa was a perfectly taken set piece from David Silva who picked out the run of Sergio Busquets at the back post who headed it towards goal before Costa making sure it went into the net. The Spanish No. 19 was giving Pepe some hard time throughout his match time before getting subbed off for Iago Aspas.
4. Influential Youth.
Goncalo Guedes has been on fire in pre-world cup preparation. In a Portuguese squad of ageing veterans he brings with him freshness in the squad. Although he had a quiet night in front of goal, he was still successful in setting up Ronaldo for his second. On the other hand there was one player whose name was chanted by the audience almost as much as Ronaldo’s. The Spanish magician Isco danced around the Portuguese defence with such ease and confidence that it would inspire a ballerina. Dance like a butterfly sting like a bee. And sting he almost did, denied a goal by an inch. Again a reminder how close these games are.
5. Fine like an old wine.
There are simply less adjectives to describe the magician and the favorite son of Spain, Andres Iniesta. Once again, the magic was visible on the pitch with him being the centre of attention every time there was an Spanish Attack. 92% passing accuracy with total 99 touches in the 70′ he played. Almost scored off a beautiful play but the ball just went past the far post. A delight to watch as always and will be missed dearly by his beloved nation.