Spain and Portugal have booked their spots in the knockout stage of the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Russia after they held off nearest challengers Iran in Group B.
Spain came from behind twice to play out a 2-2 draw with already eliminated Morocco, while Portugal and Iran settled for a 1-1 draw in the other group game.
Khalid Boutaib’s 14th minute opening goal was cancelled out by Real Madrid midfielder Isco five minutes only for substitute Youssef En-Nesyri to edge the North Africans again with nine minutes left.
Spanish substitute Iago Aspas found the back of the net in the dying moments of the game and was incorrectly ruled out before justice prevailed with the help of the Video Assistant Referees (VAR) Technology.
In the other Group B game, a late Karim Ansarifad penalty awarded via VAR cancelled out Ricardo Quaresma’s opener on the stroke of halftime as Iran and Portugal played out a thrilling 1-1 draw.
European champions Portugal took the lead through Quaresma in the first half and had the chance to double their lead from the penalty spot in the second half.
Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was fouled in the box but the spot kick was not awarded until VAR intervened only for Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beivanrand to save the poor penalty taken by Ronaldo.
Ansarifad levelled matters for Iran in the final minutes and the Asians could have scored another goal that would secure qualification but Portugal held on for the crucial point.
They will face Group A winners Uruguay in the first knockout stage, while Spain meet Group A runners up and hosts Russia in another last 16 tie.