Unimpressive Portugal eliminate brave Morocco


Ronaldo scored his fourth goal of the tournament

Unimpressive Portugal eliminate brave Morocco

by Asif Burhan

Just four days after setting the World Cup alight with the first hat-trick of the World Cup, it took Cristiano Ronaldo just four minutes to write another page in football history. His flying header into the roof of the net from Joao Moutinho’s right-wing cross made him the highest scoring Euroepan in the history of international football breaking the record of another Real Madrid legend Ferenc Puskas. Only Iran’s Ali Daei stands ahead of Ronaldo now with 109 international goals, 24 more than the Portuguese captain.

Morocco needing a result to stay in the competition responded strongly and almost equalised seven minutes later from another right-wing corner, but new Wolverhampton Wanderers signing Rui Patricio dived low to save Mehdi Benatia’s on his goal-line. Ronaldo turned provider in the 39th minute, lifting the ball over the Moroccan defence for his strike partner Goncalo Guedes whose shot was pushed out by Monir El Kajoui. The same player’s mis-kick fell to Ronaldo in the 51 minute but he skied a clear chance.

Thereafter, Morocco dominated. Moments later, Patricio came to the European champions’ rescue with a stunning one-handed save reminiscent of Gordon Banks’ famous save from Pele in the 1970 World Cup as Younes Belhanda flicked on Hakim Ziyach’s free kick. Benatia then blazed over from yet another Moroccan set-piece and repeated the trick in injury time as the Atlas Lions bowed out of the tournament with a game yet to play.

An aerial shot of Portugal on the attack
Photo: FIFA.com

Moroccan coach Herve Renard was unhappy that Pepe went unpunished for jumping into Khalid Boutaib at the near post as Ronaldo scored the crucial goal

“Have a good look at what the number 3 is doing and do your own analysis and write the truth”. Despite his team becoming the first team to be eliminated from the World Cup, Renard added that “there is one thing that I am sure of right now, that the whole of Morocco is proud, and even very proud, of its team. We’ve showed that we can play football, we do play football, we’ve shown it during our two games. It’s true that we were not very effective in the end.”

Portuguese coach Fernando Santos was unhappy with his team’s general performance

“There was no intensity in the game. We started the game very well. After 10, 15 minutes, the team just couldn’t keep the ball, couldn’t really play. We have to be able to deal with the pressure and create dynamics to get out of the pressure. We were running out of lungs”.

On his timeless captain, Santos was fulsome in his praise:

“Cristiano is like a port wine, he knows how to refine his capacity and age at his best. His physical capacity, his technical prowess, his strategy, he is constantly evolving contrarily to the regular players. He doesn’t want to do today what he did four of five years ago and in two or three years he is not going to be doing the same as he is doing today. He knows himself and how to improve himself”.

Portugal now face Iran while Morocco have to face Spain.


Comments are closed.