WORLD CUP 2018

We've got weapons too: Santos

Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres gesturing as he refers a penalty decision against Portugal to the VAR on Monday, amid the protests of the European champions' players.
Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres gesturing as he refers a penalty decision against Portugal to the VAR on Monday, amid the protests of the European champions' players.ST PHOTO: REUTERS

Portugal coach calm ahead of match-up with Uruguay after 1-1 draw with Iran

SARANSK • Portugal coach Fernando Santos brushed aside various video assistant referee (VAR) decisions and a sub-par performance from Cristiano Ronaldo, to emphasise that his players achieved their main goal in a 1-1 draw with Iran by qualifying for the World Cup last 16.

The result, combined with Spain's 2-2 draw with Morocco and an earlier win for Uruguay over hosts Russia in Group A, means Portugal will play Uruguay in Sochi on Saturday, while Group B winners Spain will face Russia in Moscow on Sunday.

"The important thing is to think about the (round of 16) match, think about the game, get to know your adversaries and then to get well prepared mentally and physically, regardless of it being Uruguay or the hosts," Santos said. "These are different circumstance, of course. The hosts have huge support and they've had a very good tournament, while Uruguay have... top-notch players and they're all excellent - but Portugal too. We have our weapons and we're going to try to win."

Ricardo Quaresma put Portugal ahead just before half-time but Ronaldo missed a chance to double their lead eight minutes into the second half, when a penalty was awarded with the help of VAR but his spot-kick was saved.

At the other end, Karim Ansarifard got an equaliser for Iran in stoppage time after the referee awarded a second VAR-assisted penalty for handball. The referee also consulted VAR before deciding not to send Ronaldo off after he raised an arm to Morteza Pouraliganji while chasing a long ball.

Iran's coach, Carlos Queiroz, who managed his native Portugal at the 2010 World Cup, suggested that the referee allowed Ronaldo to stay on the pitch because of the player's high profile.

"The reality is you stopped the game for VAR, there is an elbow," he said. "An elbow is a red card in the rules. In the rules it doesn't say if it is (Lionel) Messi or Ronaldo..."

SEEING RED OVER NO RED

An elbow is a red card in the rules. In the rules it doesn't say if it is (Lionel) Messi or Ronaldo...

CARLOS QUEIROZ , Iran's manager, who felt that Ronaldo's high profile saved him.

  • 14 MINUTES OF DRAMA

  • 3.39am (SINGAPORE TIME)

    Youssef En-Nesyri (81st minute) puts Morocco ahead:

    • Spain 1 Morocco 2

    • Iran 0 Portugal 1

  • STANDINGS

    1 Portugal

    2 Spain

  • 3.41AM

    VAR review Off-the-ball elbow by Cristiano Ronaldo (83rd), yellow card but no sending-off:

    • Spain 1 Morocco 2

    • Iran 0 Portugal 1

  • STANDINGS

    1 Portugal

    2 Spain

  • 3.48AM

    VAR review Iago Aspas (90+1) is ruled onside as he puts Spain level:

    • Spain 2 Morocco 2

    • Iran 0 Portugal 1

  • STANDINGS

    1 Portugal

    2 Spain

  • 3.51AM

    VAR review Cedric Soares handball: Karim Ansarifard scores penalty (90+3) to put Iran level :

    • Iran 1 Portugal 1

    • Spain 2 Morocco 2

  • STANDINGS

    1 Spain

    2 Portugal

  • 3.53AM

    Mehdi Taremi hits side netting as Iran miss chance to eliminate Portugal:

    • Iran 1 Portugal 1

    • Spain 2 Morocco 2

  • STANDINGS

    1 Spain

    2 Portugal

Santos did not think Ronaldo was fortunate to escape a red card, and also downplayed the controversial penalty conceded after Sardar Azmoun headed the ball down against Cedric Soares' arm from point-blank range. "I wasn't concerned (by the three VAR decisions)," he said. "It seemed like a normal thing in the match. The referee did what he had to do. I think the VAR did its job and that's what we have to accept."

Mehdi Taremi nearly snatched a dramatic winner after a deflected shot rolled into his path, but he fired into the side netting as Iran were eliminated in agonising fashion.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2018, with the headline 'We've got weapons too: Santos'. Print Edition | Subscribe