First World Cup meeting between sides


Morocco´s fans, at a World Cup for the first time in 20 years, belted out their own national anthem and then applauded Iran´s, the 67,000-seater arena a sea of red and white, and buzzing with the hum of vuvuzelas in a throwback to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

There was also a late goal in the first match of the day, with Uruguay scoring in the 89th minute to secure a 1-0 win over Egypt.

The 1-0 victory also sent Iran, which reached consecutive World Cups only for first time, one step closer to the knockout stage that they had never been to before.

For the majority of the match, Iran showed their determination and doggedness against a Moroccan side which was clearly superior in technical play.

Morocco, who enjoyed more possession throughout, began in aggressive fashion, taking the game to their opponents and overloading their right flank as they targeted Hajsafi. Morocco playmaker Hakim Ziyech - who plays his club football for Ajax - contributed the most assists in the Dutch league with 21.

Going into injury time in St Petersburg, it looked like being a result neither Morocco or Iran wanted, before Morocco's Sofyan Amrabat conceded a needless free-kick by fouling Saman Ghoddos near the corner flag.

Play almost ground to a halt in the final 15 minutes amid extended stoppages for injuries to Morocco's Amrabat and Omid Ebrahimi and Alireza Jahanbakhsh of Iran, and the match seemed headed to a draw until Bouhhadouz's miscue. To start with, Benatia will be hoping to start with a win over Iran and kickstart Morocco's campaign in Russian Federation.

Morocco's Aziz Bouhaddouz scored an injury-time own goal to hand Iran a 1-0 World Cup win
Morocco's Aziz Bouhaddouz scored an injury-time own goal to hand Iran a 1-0 World Cup win

"If we need to defend in 90 minutes...if we have one minute or one second of chance, we only play with one thing in the mind: try to win the game", he added.

Iran will play Spain on Wednesday.

Iran won just their second match at the World Cup (drew three, lost eight), with this their first since beating U.S. in June 1998.

"Superman is only in the cartoons", Queiroz said.

For Moroccans, he will be remembered for his unfortunate World Cup stance.

Iran have kept a clean sheet in only one of their last 12-games at the World Cup. "It may even be more hard than Portugal and Spain because they will play without pressure". Khalid Boutaïb has more experience but Ayoub El-Kaabi is the man in form, with two goals and an assist in his last three games. Fatigue and a number of stoppages meant that the intensity of the second half didn't match the first. Iran, despite their tremendous efforts during their qualifying campaign, have had their ups and downs so far, and would not be able to make the grade against Morocco.

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