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20180615 Portugal v Spain

Day two began with the alarm clock going off at 5.45. By 6am we were in an Uber taxi heading to the airport.

Thankfully with our accreditation passes we were able to go through the priority lanes and not wait in line for what would have been over an hour due to the horrendous amount of people in the airport!

Again security was a pain. First a thorough checking over of everything, X-rays and manual searches before even entering the airport. Then once we went to the gates, another set of security.

7am saw the order of a chicken caesar salad. Then it was time to board the aeroplane.

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Although I sat next to an Uma Thurman look alike Russian girl who was a Japanese interpreter, I had to excuse myself from chatting and went to sleep.

I was awoken by the plane touching down in Sochi.

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Greeted with deep blue skies, the temperature was already approaching 30c.

With two Japanese photographers we shared a taxi to the stadium.

The reward fo a nice walk in the morning sunshine was another set of security measures as we entered the stadium. The first game – over enthusiastic security staff checking everything AGAIN.

My Aeroflot app sprung into life and I secured window seats to enable me to sleep for the return flight early in the morning back to Moscow and then another flight to the next destination of Kazan.

But I had todays game to conquer first.

I got my pre-ticketing ticket, I was number 209! Then I had to wait six hours. Most of the wait was spent chatting to the LA Galaxy photographer and my good friend David Leah who now lives in Mexico City.

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The stale air was enough so I ventured outside and went on the beach for an hour, photographing locals jumping off the pier into the Black Sea and youngsters trying their luck in spotting their favorite players.

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At 7pm, I finally got my match ticket from FIFA. The Russian camera club claimed all the positions behind the goal so I was left to sit on the side once more.

Although I tried, most of the fan base were Mexicans or Chinese with Portugal or Spanish flags painted on their face. I had nothing to send back home for editing and syndication except the “new” Spain manager.

Ronaldo won an early penalty –  only for him to run the other way after scoring what was his opening goal.

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The goals kept coming, Spain’s 2-3 goal was surely the winning goal?

I got what was the winning goal very well, but i have been doing this too long in not assuming that I was in the pound seats, there was more to come.

Ronaldo scored an epic free kick to make it 3-3.

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There was no jealousy and nothing but praise for English photographers Adam and Hannah who came away with amazing pictures of Ronaldo celebrating to make it 3-3.

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At half past midnight we were walking out of the stadium hunting for a taxi. Some wanting six times the going rate. Eventually we settled for 1000 Rubles.

Washing sweaty feet in the disabled toilets, walking out of an airport restaurant because they were slow in serving, a midnight snack with a French photographer of pasta, pork and chocolate cake sounds nicer that it was.

3.50am and I was asleep on a flight heading back to Moscow. Seat 19A being my two hour bed for the night.

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