Own goal gives Iran edge over Morocco


Photo credit: FIFA

Iran 1- Morocco 0

It has been over 20 years but Iran finally have another win at the World Cup. Thanks to an own goal and some stellar defending Team Melli overcame Morocco by the score of 1-0 at the Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg.

Going into this match it was expected that this would be a bit of a defensive struggle. The two sides combined to allow just five goals during qualification and have a reputation historically for being difficult to breakdown. It more than lived up to the billing with just five shots getting on target between the two of them. Their respective captains, midfielder Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens) of Iran and center-back Medhi Benatia (Juventus), orchestrated very tightly controlled runs and counter-attacks that emphasized retaining possession.

Of the two Morocco were the more aggressive side. In the 40th minute forward Ayoub El Kaabi finally found a few inches of space deep inside Iran’s defensive third. He ripped a shot from just inside the eighteen yard box that forced their goalkeeper, Alireza Beiranvand, to make a diving stop. Beiranvand, 23, who currently plays his club ball for Persepolis had to make three stops on the day en route to earning the clean sheet.

Things did pick up a bit at the end of the first half for Iran. Iran started finding more space on the wings against Morocco, who looked a bit worn down from the physical toll that Team Melli placed on them in the first half. In the 42nd minute forward Sardar Ammoun broke past the Moroccan defense and earned a clear one-on-one chance against goalkeeper Munir. Ammoun’s shot was kick-saved by Munir, who followed that up by parrying away the rebound chance from Alireza Jahanbakhsh.

In the second half it appeared that the two sides were destined to walk away with a point each after their respective goalkeepers each made quality stops. But Iran received a little bit of luck in the 90th minute when Moroccan substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz headed an Iranian corner into the back of his own net. With little time to spare The Atlas Lions could do little as Iran’s defense held their ground to seal the win. 

Morocco (0-1-0, 0 points) will face Portugal (0-1-0, 1 point, June 20, Saint Petersburg) while Iran (1-0-0, 3 points) will take on Spain (0-1-0, 1 point, June 20, Kazan) in their next matches in Group B.

Morocco- Munir, Romain Saïss, Medhi Benatia, Karim El Ahmadi, Achraf Hakimi, Nordin Amrabat (Sofyan Amrabat 76′), Younès Belhanda, Mbark Boussoufa, Amine Harit (Manuel da Costa 82′), Hakim Ziyech, and Ayoub El Kaabi (Aziz Bouhaddouz 77′)

Yellow Card- El Ahmadi (34′)

Iran-Alireza Beiranvand, Morteza Pouraliganji, Roozbeh Cheshmi, Omid Ebrahimi, Ehsan Hajsafi, Ramin Masoud Shojaei (Mehdi Taremi 68′) Karim Ansarifard, Vahid Amiri, Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Saman Ghoddos 84′), and Sardar Azmoun

Goal-Bouhaddouz (o.g. 90′)

Yellow Cards- Shojaei (10′) and Jahanbakhsh (47′) 


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