Today, in their group B fixture at the Saint Petersburg Stadium, Iran has finally broken their two decades long losing streak by securing a victory against Morocco. Here are some of the highlights of the match.
In the early stages of the match, Morocco was the dominant team. Morocco is said to hold the best defensive record in the World Cup run-up. Iran, however, started off on a rather slippery slope, in the tenth minute, the Iranian captain Masoud Sojaei got a yellow card for a cynical tackle! Till the 14th minute, the Moroccan team had held the ball for more than 80 percent, leaving the Iranian team clueless. At this point, they were unable to even get the ball into the Moroccan half!
In the 18th minute, Morocco’s mid-fielder El Hamadi put up a great show but unfortunately later in the minute the team failed to get the ball through the Iranian goalkeeper.
In the 21st minute, Morocco’s momentum broke and Iran went closer than ever to take the lead. Iran’s Karim Ansarifard’s attempt was deflected out of a corner. Morocco also suffered from a foul when their Hakim Ziyach brought down Iran’s Vahid Amiri. Following up in the 31st minute, Morocco’s Amine Harit made an attempt, but it was easily saved by the Iranian keeper.
In the 35th minute, Iran was awarded a free kick, Iran’s Alireza Jahanbaksh took a 40-yard free kick, but it was a poor one and the ball went out to the stands. Iran’s Sardar Azmoun went down in the 38th minute. This was followed by a reckless foul by Morocco’s El Kaabi.
Towards the half-time, Morocco was the dominant team while Iran had got a little foothold in the proceedings of the game. With extra two minutes added, the match reached half-time with a score of 0-0.
The second half started off on a fiery note with Iran’s Alireza Jahanbaksh, getting a yellow card in the 47th minute. Following in the 50th minute, Iran was able to get a nice break, had their finishing been good enough, they could’ve broken Morocco’s deadlock. One hour in, that match was still a tie, however, Iran was showing a fairly decent play whereas the Moroccan Hakim Ziyech broke down his team’s attacks when he was penalized for a handball.
There was no goal as yet and both teams were looking desperately for opportunities to score, and tensions seemed to rise. No shots from both the teams were hit on target since the beginning of the second half. In the 67th minute, Iran’s Taremi was replaced by Shojaie and in the 78th minute, Iran’s Omid Ebrahimi grabbed his ribs. Replays showed bruises on his back, as he was struggling, he was substituted.
In the 79th minute after two substitutions, Iran was faced by a powerful volley by Morocco’s Hakim Ziyach, but it was ably saved by the Iranian goalkeeper, Ali Bairanvand.
Till the 90th minute, it was assumed that the match will end in a draw. Six minutes were added to the total time. In the plus fourth minute, Morocco’s Bouhaddouz, with a header, successfully cleared the ball through his keeper, giving Iran the lead.