Friday afternoon (GMT) saw Morocco take on Iran at Krestovsky Stadium for Match day 1 in the FIFA World Cup 2018.
The home side came with five wins in their last six international fixtures while the Iranians came with two losses in their last six.
Mehdi Benatia led Morocco’s backline while Alireza Jahanbakhsh was Iran’s main man; having been the Dutch league’s top scorer last season.
The first 45 minutes of the match saw Morocco dominate in possession as they consistently applied pressure to the visitor’s half.
A combination of constant pressing, pace in attack and passing were the ingredients to the Africans’ fluidity.
The Atlas Lions were successfully crossing balls into the Iranian half and connecting long balls upfront.
As a result of this pressure, Iran spent almost the first half hour playing defensively, trying to constrict the Moroccan attacking line before launching their counter.
The last 10 minutes of the opening half saw Iran improve drastically as Jahanbaksh led the attempts of creating chances, but failed to convert.
The way Morocco was playing in the first half meant that they should have definitely scored a goal.
Their closest chance came in the 38th minute when Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech crossed the ball into the Iran box narrowly missing Ayoub El Kaabi’s head.
The referee blew the whistle as both sides went off for half time.
Though there was a little disappointment in failing to convert chances, both sets of fans in the stands were cheering with joy at how entertaining the game was.
The second half saw both sides with almost equal possession on the ball.
However, Morocco’s Nordin Amrabat looked to impress as he led the home side’s attack multiple times for almost 30 minutes.
Around the 70th minute saw a time of difficulty for both teams as players were down on the field injured.
Moroccan winger Amrabat had to substituted off with his own brother Sofyan out of fear of a concussion.
While on the other end, Iran’s main man Jahanbakhsh had to be stretchered out close to full time.
Though many suspected an injury scare, he seemed to only have a leg cramp after playing for 84 minutes.
Both sides continued to play rough in the second half, eager to get their first goal for the tournament.
An extra six minutes of added time due to injuries added pressure on both sides of the field.
In the closing minutes it was time for one of these teams to deliver the final strike.
GOAL – Aziz Bouhaddouz (OG) – 95th Minute – Morocco 0-1 Iran
A tragic mistake in the final seconds of the game. Morocco’s Aziz Bouhaddouz headed the ball into the back of his own net.
The visitors are gifted their first win of the tournament from a fatal error.
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