Iran scratches out World Cup victory against Morocco with own goal

Morocco vs Iran LIVE: World Cup updates from Group B tie in St Petersburg | Daily Star

Morocco's Aziz Bouhaddouz is consoled by teammates after he scored an own goal against Iran at the World Cup. Cancelled pre-tournament friendlies left them undercooked and exposed.

Iran will play Spain on Wednesday while Morocco will be facing Portugal. Iran only had 32 per cent possession as they were dominated in the second half, but they did not care.

That contrasted with the one of the main squares in Tehran, where a billboard portrays fans celebrating and holding aloft the World Cup, accompanied by the slogan "One nation, one heartbeat". Indeed, 17 of the 23-man squad were born outside of Morocco but qualified to play for the Atlas Lions through dual nationality. The camera then cut to Renard who was shaking the hand of Queiroz. To start with, Benatia will be hoping to start with a win over Iran and kickstart Morocco's campaign in Russian Federation.

No real goalscoring opportunities arrived until late in the game as Morocco's main playmaker Ziyech finally got a shot on goal but Beiranvand denied him with a smart save to his left.

Early on Morocco started well with Belhanda flashing a header over and Iran being pinned back into their own half.

The former Netherlands U-21 worldwide scored nine goals and made a league-leading 15 assists in the Dutch Eredivisie this season, being named Dutch Footballer of the Year for his trouble.

Nobody's expecting a thriller in St. Petersburg between two teams who rely very heavily on their defences.

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Morocco started brilliantly, hounding Iran's every touch and swarming forward with such ferocity that on the line, Queiroz spent most of the opening 20 minutes urging his players to pause, and take a breath.

But neither can afford to sit back. Both will need a win to have any chance of qualifying from their group.

He also made it clear he has no problem with putting in a defensive display.

If one team can nick the win, it might be Morocco.

The King of Morocco, King Mohammed VI, has already instructed his country to try again and bid to host the 2030 event, while a strong World Cup showing in Russian Federation would help raise the profile of the team.

"That is something that unfortunately this brand did and, well, it's their responsibility to do such a thing but the image they have [projected] at least for 80 million people in Iran is not a really nice image".

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