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Screen plays: World Cup matchups turn on late video reviews

Screen plays: World Cup matchups turn on late video reviews
The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — Fans in stadiums about 1,000 miles apart — and millions watching on multiple screens around the globe — were transfixed on a studio outside Moscow where World Cup fates turned on nearly simultaneous video replay decisions.

Iago Aspas had scored in the first minute of stoppage time Monday night, pulling Spain into a 2-2 tie with Morocco in Kaliningrad, but a referee’s assistant ruled he was offside. If the goal did not count, Spain would be in second place behind Portugal.

Referee Ravshan Irmatov went to the monitor on the side of the field to view the image put on the screen by the control room at the International Broadcast Center in Krasnogorsk.

At the same moment, referee Enrique Caceres went to view his monitor in Saransk to determine whether Portuguese defender Cedric committed a handball when Iran’s Sardar Azmoun headed the ball down. Portugal was leading 1-0. Both games were past 90 minutes and into stoppage time.

If Portugal won, it would finish first. If Iran were able to score on the penalty kick and somehow score again while Morocco held on to beat Spain, Iran would have shockingly won the group, Portugal would finish second and Spain’s World Cup would be over.

Iramatov reversed the call, pointing to the center circle to signal goal. Spain got the 2-2 dras. Cacares gestured to the spot for the record 20th penalty kick of the World Cup, and Karim Ansarifard converted in the third minute of stoppage time to give Iran a 1-1 draw.

When final whistles blew, Spain and Portugal — which drew 3-3 earlier in the tournament — were tied again atop Group B, but Spain got the top seed on the second tiebreaker, total goals, 6-5.

That means host Russia, which finished second in Group A, will play Spain on Sunday in Moscow, while Portugal faces the much more difficult opponent, Uruguay on Saturday in Sochi.

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More AP World Cup coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

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