Match Day 2 in Russia and we are not short of any talking points. Morroco vs Iran had one of the most unexpected endings as Iran snatched the win with a very late own goal by A. Bouhaddouz, headed into his own net from a free-kick taken from the left wing at 90 + 3 minutes. It was the only goal of the game, a game which could have had a lot more goals had it not been for their goalkeepers. The late drama meant there were wild celebrations on the Iran bench and a heartbreak for Moroccans around the globe.
The game, as many felt, should have gone in the favor of North African side, Morocco. The Moroccan team participated in the World-Cup after 20 years and they looked raging in the first half. They had the better chances, they had the ball for most periods in the game and yet they couldn’t convert anything from it. The Iranian defense showed great commitment to nullify the wave after wave of Moroccan attack, especially Iran goalkeeper A. Beiranvand who made some spectacular saves to deny Morocco from scoring.
Unfortunately for Morocco, they will have to win both their games against Portugal and Spain to have a chance of progressing, which seems like an impossible dream after today’s results. Iran, on the other hand, got lucky today and might have a better chance of progressing than their opponents from today – should they beat or manage to get a draw against today’s losers from Portugal vs Spain. Although, they will need more than just luck to get through those two teams.
Morocco started brilliantly, with Amine Harit firing just wide from a volley inside the first two minutes. Shortly after, Younes Belhanda headed just past the post from N. Amrabat’s cross from the right side. The chances kept coming for the Lions of the Atlas and they held 80% possession in the first 20 minutes of the game and dominated throughout. If they had taken one of those chances, it would change the whole landscape of the game.
Moroccans kept pushing to score that first goal, and it seemed like only a matter of time until they would get it. N. Amrabat continued making impressive runs on the right and sending in great crosses, however, no one in the box seemed to make a good contact with the ball despite being in clear goalscoring positions. Ziyech saw his left-footed effort saved by Iran’s goalkeeper in the second half.
A second-half injury at the 77th minute meant Morocco’s main supplier, N. Amrabat, was forced to go off. This changed the structure a little bit as the man that replaced him gave away the foul for the goal and the other substitute (made at the same time) pushed the ball in the back of their own net. Morocco continues their embarrassing record of never having won their opening day game at any World Cups.
The best chance for Iran fell in the first half when Sardar Azmoun was 1 on 1 with the Moroccan keeper but his shot was too low for Munir Mohamedi and he saved it with ease. This was their best effort and the only shot on target besides the own-goal. Iran couldn’t manage a single shot on target in the second half and spent most of the half organizing themselves in the defense. Iran was the first team in 50 years to not have registered a single shot on target in the second half of a World Cup Fixture
Some would say the result was unfair, and many would agree with them but this is football and no-one can predict what happens in the game and this is what keeps the beautiful game exciting. It can get hard sometimes and luckily pleasant for some teams, as it did for Iran today, but what’s done is done and both teams will be looking forward to their next games against Portugal and Spain.
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