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Morocco vs Iran, FIFA World Cup 2018: Bouhaddouz Own Goal Gives Iran the Win | June 15, 2018, 10:44 PM IST
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Iran coach Carlos Queiroz believes his players have been brought closer together by Nike's decision to cut their supply of World Cup kit to the team but the acid test will come against Morocco on Friday. Nike announced they have been forbidden from providing football boots to Iran's squad during the tournament, on account of sanctions imposed against the country by the United States. The late decision has disrupted Iran's preparations, with some players reportedly having to buy their own footwear from Russian shops or even ask club team-mates for help.

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Jun 15, 2018 10:44 pm (IST)
Jun 15, 2018 10:30 pm (IST)

Full-time: That's the final whistle and Iran has managed to beat Morocco 1-0. This the the first win for an Asian team in this edition of the tournament. The Moroccon players are down on the ground after this last-minute loss. Meanwhile, as for Iran, the players are on cloud nine. 

Jun 15, 2018 10:27 pm (IST)

GOAL: This is the moment that the Iranians were aiming for as they have managed to go 1-0 up courtesy of an own goal in the dying minutes of the game. Aziz Bouhaddouz tried to head the ball out of the D following a cross but he ended up beating his own keeper at the near post.

Jun 15, 2018 10:25 pm (IST)

Things seem to be getting out of hand now as players are going for unnecessary tackles and that is leading to fighting. This time, the two coaches and their respective support staff are also having a word with each other. Final, common sense prevailed and Herve Renard and Carlos Queiroz asked their respective support staff to keep quiet. 

Jun 15, 2018 10:22 pm (IST)

6 minutes of extra time have been added after the completion of 90 minutes and it seems that we are about to have our first goalless match of the tournament. Let's see if either of the two teams can conjure some magic in the final few minutes of the game.

Jun 15, 2018 10:19 pm (IST)

Substitution: Alireza Jahanbakhsh is laying down on the pitch, which forces a substitution for Iran. Saman Ghoddos is the man Carlos Queiroz chooses to come off the bench, and will look to penetrate the Moroccan defense.

Jun 15, 2018 10:13 pm (IST)

We now move into the final 10 minutes of the match and it is still goalless here in St. Petersburg. There have been chances galore in this match but neither of the two teams have done enough to take the lead.

Jun 15, 2018 10:11 pm (IST)

Substitution: Two quick chances for Morocco - Noureddine Amrabat suffers an injury and he is replaced by Sofyan Amrabat. Meanwhile, Aziz Bouhaddou also comes in place for Ayoub El Kaabi.

Jun 15, 2018 10:05 pm (IST)

After Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s bad angled shot that is deflected wide, Iran's first real attacking threat of the second half is headed away. The match is still locked at 0-0 but not because the game has been cagey. It is because of the brilliance of the defenders that we haven’t seen a goal in this match. 75 minutes have been played now.

Jun 15, 2018 9:58 pm (IST)

Substitution: Skipper Shojaei is being replaced by Taremi now — the number 17 striker who scored 8 goal during Iran's qualification campaign. 

Jun 15, 2018 9:55 pm (IST)

Things are heating up in the middle now as challenges are now starting to fly in. Belhanda starts it all off by stomping on Shojaei and he in turn looks him in the eye and come face to face. Lucky for both the players, no cards were shown by the referee.

Jun 15, 2018 9:51 pm (IST)

Injury: A stoppage in play while the physios come onto the pitch to look at Omid Ebrahimi who is gripping his ribs after a tackle on Amine Harit. But no harm done as the player is back on his feet and the game is back underway.

Jun 15, 2018 9:46 pm (IST)

Yellow Card: Alireza Jahanbakhsh goes into the referee’s book after a hard challenge. A strong hard stomp from the Iranian star gets him a deserved yellow card.

Jun 15, 2018 9:45 pm (IST)

Like in the first half, Morocco have been the better side in the first five minutes of the second half. Real Madrid star Hakimi had a good chance to hit the goal from a cross from Amrabat, but his shot sailed over the bar. 

Jun 15, 2018 9:34 pm (IST)

Morocco's early pressure wasn't enough for them to get the lead. The Moroccan's early shots and sturdy defense slowly faded as Iran looked to gain more confidence as the half moved on. Iran should be happy with their late first half performance and their ability to setup their counter attacking against a strong Moroccan defense. Morocco will look to return to their early game form as the second half begins.

Jun 15, 2018 9:25 pm (IST)
Jun 15, 2018 9:21 pm (IST)

Half-time: A good half of football comes to an end between these two teams. Both Morocco and Iran had multiple chances to score goals in the match but excellent defending from both set of defenders spoiled the attackers' party. More of the same is expected in the second half now.

Jun 15, 2018 9:18 pm (IST)

Glorious Chance: Iran had an excellent chance to go 1-0 up against the run of play in the 42nd minute of the match. Azmoun was played clear on to the goal and he was one on one with the keeper. However, his meek shot was saved by keeper. Match still locked at 0-0.

Jun 15, 2018 9:09 pm (IST)

Yellow Card: Morocco’s Karim El Ahmadi earns a yellow card by tripping while Sardar Azmoun tried to start an Iranian counter attack. It was a rather deliberate attempt to foul and stop the attack from Ahmadi and that’s why he has been shown the yellow card.

Jun 15, 2018 9:04 pm (IST)

Chance: Another chance for Morocco as this time Harit takes the ball inside the D and tries to curl the ball inside the far post. However, he couldn't curl the ball properly and the keeper makes an easy save in the 30th minute. 

Jun 15, 2018 9:01 pm (IST)
Jun 15, 2018 8:55 pm (IST)

Off a free kick, Ziyech centers the ball for Morocco which has three chances to find the back of the net, but each attempt is blocked. The last attempt by Benatia is parried away by Beiranvand for a corner kick. Another close shave for Iran.

Jun 15, 2018 8:52 pm (IST)

Chance: Golden opportunity for Morocco go ahead once more in the 18th minute but there is a scramble in front of the Iran goal. Thankfully for the Asian side the ball is cleared out safely after multiple saves by the defense. 

Jun 15, 2018 8:48 pm (IST)

Ayoub El Kaabi had a good chance to open the scoring for Morocco but he slices the ball wide of the left post from the penalty spot to add to his team’s many early chances. 15 minutes have been played and the score still reads 0-0, with Morocco hogging majority of the possession at the moment.

Jun 15, 2018 8:48 pm (IST)

Yellow Card: Iran Masoud Shojaei goes in the referee's book for a rough tackle from behind. He is the first player to be shown a card today in this match.

Jun 15, 2018 8:43 pm (IST)

Morocco has two very good attempts, one initially off a corner which was whiffed at, the seconded a header by Younes Belhanda, who misses above the cross bar.

Jun 15, 2018 8:39 pm (IST)

Morocco have started on the front foot and in the first five minutes of the game, they have already threatened the Iranian goal on couple of occasion and one time the ball going over the post from a header. Amine Harit misses wide with the header.

Jun 15, 2018 8:33 pm (IST)

KICK-OFF: And we are underway in St. Petersburg. Morocco is making their first World Cup appearance since France 1998. They are captained by Juventus center back Medhi Benatia, who will look to solidify a defensive line which will also feature one of the youngest players of this World Cup, 19 year old Achraf Hakimi. Iran is looking to bounce back after only securing one point in the 2014 World Cup. They will look for Sardar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakhsh to contribute in the attacking third.

Jun 15, 2018 8:30 pm (IST)

The players are now done with their respective national anthems and they are are now shaking hands with one another. It is a real battle between the underdogs and the winner of this match could upset the big boys' progression in the next stage. 

Jun 15, 2018 8:27 pm (IST)
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Morocco vs Iran, FIFA World Cup 2018: Bouhaddouz Own Goal Gives Iran the Win
Morocco skipper Mehdi Benatia plays the ball during the match against Iran. (FIFA Image)
"It has been a source of inspiration for us," Queiroz told Sky Sports. "This last comment of Nike was, in my personal view, an unnecessary statement. Everybody is aware about the sanctions. "They should come out and apologise because this arrogant conduct against 23 boys is absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary." Iran head into the match against Morocco in Group B on the back of a difficult build-up to the tournament overall, after friendly matches against Greece and Kosovo were also cancelled. It remains to be seen whether Queiroz's defiant verdict bears fruit, given any loser of Friday's crunch fixture in Saint Petersburg would be left needing to beat either Spain or Portugal to reach the last 16. "We have the potential to surprise Morocco in our first match," Queiroz said. "We know their team very well but I suspect they know very little about us." Queiroz's mood may seem bullish but, despite upheaval off the pitch, his team have been in excellent form on it.

In Brazil four years ago, they were sunk by a late Lionel Messi strike in the group stage against Argentina but there was enough in Iran's performances to persuade Queiroz to stay on. The former Real Madrid coach and Manchester United assistant had already overseen them climbing from seventh to top of the Asian rankings and since the last World Cup, they have not lost a competitive game. That run includes 22 matches and even saw Iran as the first team to qualify for Russia. But, if they are to upset the expected duopoly of Portugal and Spain, Iran will surely need to beat Morocco, who managed not to concede a single goal during their own stellar qualifying campaign. French coach Herve Renard has instilled a relentless work ethic and defensive discipline in his team but this will be the country's first outing at a World Cup since 1998 and organisation will take the Atlas Lions only so far. After Spain sacked their coach Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday, two days before their opening match, both Morocco and Iran will hope the likelihood of a surprise run has been boosted. "We have a tough draw," Renard said. "It will be a matter of making the most of any chances we get."
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