Early Ronaldo goal sends Morocco home from Russia
Portugal 1 (Ronaldo 4’)
By Caleb Lawrence
An early goal by Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo was enough to see off Morocco, eliminating them from the competition, with the game ending 1-0 to Portugal at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
It did not take long for Portugal captain Ronaldo to continue his goal scoring form when in the fourth minute, he escaped his marker at a corner to score a diving header from the six-yard line.
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The next big chance came in the 39th minute, when Ronaldo lobbed the ball over the Moroccan defence to Goncalo Guedes, whose half-volley was blocked by Munir with a firm left hand.
Half-time saw Moroccan coach Herve Renard questioning the referee outside the change rooms after a penalty shout was waved away in the 27th minute. Portuguese left-back Raphael Guerreiro appeared to tug on Noureddine Amrabat’s playing strip inside the penalty area, which left Renard questioning why VAR was not used.
The second half saw Morocco take control of the game with 55 per cent of possession as they looked for equaliser.
Younes Belhanda thought he had found the equaliser for Morocco after he headed the ball from a free kick by Hakim Ziyech, only to be denied by Rui Patricio diving full-stretch to his bottom right.
Morocco looked to be the better side in the second half, having a total of 15 shots on goal to Portugal’s 10 but only four of the African’s shots hit the target.
As the game went on to its latter stages, Portugal was time wasting with Pepe going down as if he was shot after being tapped on the shoulder by Medhi Benatia, much to the Moroccan’s frustration.
The result means Morocco is the first team out of the World Cup as they sit last in Group B with two losses and no points. Their final game is against Spain next Tuesday
Morocco’s efforts in dominating possession in their two matches have not gone unnoticed.
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The qualifiers from Group B are still not settled. Spain and Portugal lead on four points but Iran, despite its loss to Spain in game two, is on three points and still a chance.
The Iranians meet Portugal in their final match, and, once again, Ronaldo will hold the key.
Portugal: R.Patricio (GK), Cedric, Pepe, J. Fonte, R. Guerreiro, B. Silva (59), J. Moutinho (89), W. Carvalho, J. Mario (70), Goncalo Guedes, C. Ronaldo
Substitutes used: G. Martins (59), B. Fernandes (70), A. Silva (89)
Morocco: Munir (GK), N. Dirar, M. Benatia, M. Da Costa, A. Hakimi, K. El Ahmadi (86), M. Boussaoufa, N. Armabat, Y. Belhanda (75), H. Ziyech, K. Boutaib (69)
Substitutes: A. El Kaabi (69), M. Carcela (75), F. Fajr (86)