Injury time own goal destroys Moroccan hearts

Injury time own goal destroys Moroccan hearts
Aziz Bouhaddouz (back L) of Morocco causes an own goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group B preliminary round soccer match between Morocco and Iran

by Phumzile Ngcatshe

Friday Jun 15, 2018. 19:35

An 95th minute own goal from Aziz Bouhaddouz saw Morocco suffer a 1-0 defeat to Iran in their opening 2018 FIFA World Cup, Group B match at St. Petersburg Stadium on Friday.

The defeat leaves the Atlas Lions with zero points from one match, but they will look to bounce back when they Spain in their second Group B match on June 25.

The North Africans started positively and went close to scoring five minutes into the game when Younes Belhanda’s glancing header went inches wide after a good cross into the box.

Iran's defence came under pressure in the 19th minute as Mehdi Benatia saw his effort blocked in a scramble in the penalty area.

With two minutes to the interval, Iran gained momentum and Alireza Jahanbakhsh forced a fine save from Monir El Kajoui in a rebound after an initial shot from Azmun Sardar in one-on-one with the keeper.

The first half ended goalless.

Chances in the second half were few and far between with Herve Renard’s men seemingly taking their foot off the pedal whilst the opposition coach Carlos Queiroz pushed his players forward.

Hakim Ziyach nearly caught the Iran keeper napping in the 81st minute with a well-struck effort from range, but it was parried away for a corner.

Both sides made changes and the Atlas Lions continued to pile pressure on the Asians, yet they lacked precision in the final third.

Iran finally broke the deadlock, against the run of play after an own goal when substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz headed into his own net from a corner kick in the dying seconds of the match, 1-0.

The win sees Queiroz’s troops moving up to the top of the table for the meantime with three points. The Asians are next in action on June 25 against Portugal.

Morocco: (0) 0
Iran: (0) 1 (Bouhaddouz og 95’)

Morocco: El Kajoui, Hakim, Benatia, Saiss, Ziyach, Al Ahmadi, EL Kaabi (Bouhaddouz 77’), Belhanda, Boussoufa, N. Amrabat (S. Amrabat 75’), Harit (Da Costa 82’)

Iran: Beiranvand, Safi, Cheshmi, Shojaei (Taremi 67’), Pouraliganji, Omid (Montazeri 78’), Karim, Amiri, Jahanbakhsh (Ghoddos 85’), Sardar, Ramin

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