Cristiano Ronaldo’s early strike sends Morocco packing

Cristiano Ronaldo’s early strike sends Morocco packing
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (R) and Nabil Dirar of Moroccoo

by Phumzile Ngcatshe

Wednesday Jun 20, 2018. 16:31

A solitary goal from Cristiano Ronaldo saw Portugal beat Morocco 1-0 in their second Group B match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday afternoon

The win leaves the reigning European champions sitting at the top of the group with four points whilst the Moroccans are booted out of the competition with the loss.

Portugal went into the encounter looking to bag their first win in Group B after opening with a 3-3 draw against Spain last Friday.

For the North Africans, they wanted to earn their second win over Portugal at the World Cup, but their first in the group after losing 1-0 to Iran last week.

However, after a promising start by the Moroccans, they failed to produce a goal when Khalid Boutaib’s glancing header went over the cross bar in the second minute.

Two minutes later, the Portuguese broke the deadlock though Ronaldo from a cross on the right which the skipper finished with a powerful header, 1-0.

Although the North Africans kept pushing, Mehdi Benatia’s header was swallowed by Rui Patricio who was well positioned on the half hour mark.

Portugal went into the break leading 1-0.

Six minutes into the second half, Portugal came close to netting their second goal when an unmarked Ronaldo saw his effort sailing wide from the penalty area.

In the 57th minute, Herve Renard’s troops did everything right, but Hakim Ziyach could not beat goalkeeper Patricio with a wonderful header as the keeper produced a great reflex save.

Morocco were all over Portugal and they received successive corner kicks towards the final 10 minutes, but they could not get a goal as Nabil Dirar’s long range effort could not trouble Patricio.

With one minute to go, Ziyach cut through the Portuguese defence but his shot was deflected for a corner and Benatia also failed to keep his effort on target in the injury time.

In the end, the Atlas Lions became the first casualties at this year's tournament as they are out of the race for a knockout spot.

Portugal: (1) 1 (Ronaldo 4’)
Morocco: (0)

Portugal: Rui Patricio, Pepe, Raphael, Fonte, Ronaldo, J. Moutinho (Silva 88’), J. Mario (Fernandes 70’), Bernardo (Martins 59’), William, Guedes, Cedric

Morocco: El Kajaoui, Hakimi, Da Costa, Benatia, Ziyach, El Ahmad (Fajr 85’), Belhanda (Carcela 75’), Boutaib (El Kaabi 69’), Boussoufa, N. Amrabat, Dirar

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