2018 World Cup action for June 15 concluded with the most-anticipated matchup of the group stage, featuring Iberian rivals Spain against Portugal. Spain, the 2010 World Cup winner, and Portugal, the 2016 European champion, are both ranked in the top 10 and clear favorites to advance from Group B to the knockout stage. Earlier, Uruguay defeated Egypt 1-0 on a Jose Gimenéz goal in the 90th-minute, while Morrocco was devastated by an own goal in the 95th-minute and lost to Iran 1-0.

Portugal raced out to an early 1-0 lead, adding a late first-half goal to lead 2-1 at halftime.

After the break, the Spaniards answered in the 55th- and 58th-minute, taking a 3-2 lead. Christiano Ronaldo would net his third goal of the match in the 88th-minute, salvaging a point in the standings, and cementing his status as the biggest star in the world. The 3-3 draw between Group B heavyweights was a best-case scenario for surprising Iran, who now leads the group with a plus-one goal differential and three points.

Spain replaced head coach two days ago

Spain made headlines when they replaced Julen Lopetegui with Fernando Hierro this past Wednesday (June 13), one day after Leoptegui was named the new head coach of Real Madrid. According to the New York Times, a conflict of interest was perceived by Spanish officials, forcing their hand to make the change.

Lopetegui was supposedly notified just five minutes before the official announcement was made, notifying the world of the coaching change on the eve of the 2018 World Cup competition. Despite their own distractions, Portugal started the scoring early in the fourth-minute, when transcendent star Christiano Ronaldo’s penalty shot was perfectly placed in the upper right-hand corner of the net, giving his team a 1-0 lead.

Spain would have a good chance in the 10th-minute, but David Silva’s shot off a crossing pass sailed harmlessly over the net.

Diego Costa fires equalizer in 24th-minute

Diego Costa produced brilliant footwork in the front of the net between two Portugal defenders, eventually finding space to connect on a shot past goalie Rui Patricio to level the match at 1-1.

Spain almost scored again in the 26th-minute with the shot ricocheting off the crossbar, ruled no goal, and would have been offsides anyway. Ronaldo’s second goal of the match was in the 43rd-minute on a left-footed low shot that gave Portugal a 2-1 lead. Spanish goalie De Gea let the ball skip off his hand and it was a costly mistake at the end of the first half from an outstanding keeper expected to make a save on that type of shot. Especially on the world’s biggest stage.

Second half offers more excitement

Diego Costa again leveled the game at 2-2 in the 55th-minute, taking Busquets' centering header past Spanish goalie De Gea for his second goal of the game. In the 58th-minute, a Nacho bender bounced off the left post into the back of the net.

Suddenly, La Roja had the lead at 3-2 and commanded possession of the ball 70 percent to 30 percent heading into the final third of the match, according to The Guardian. Into the 83rd-minute, Portugal was able to generate little offense, with the Spaniards content to play defensively, clinging to a one-goal lead.

In the 88th-minute, Christiano Ronaldo would strike again, netting a hat trick, and equalizing the game at 3-3. He became the third player to score in four different World Cup competitions and is tied for the all-time lead among European goal scorers in international competition. The world's best player delivered on the world's biggest stage, as the match lived up to every expectation. Group B action continues Wednesday (June 20) at 8 AM ET, with Portugal taking on Morrocco.