Aziz Bouhaddouz's 94th-minute own goal handed Iran an unlikely victory over Morocco in World Cup 2018 Group B. It was Iran's first World Cup win since 1998 and leaves Morocco with an almost impossible task.
Morocco 0-1 Iran
(Bouhaddouz OG 90+4')
The second injury time header of Friday’s World Cup games condemned Morocco to a somewhat unfortunate defeat and leaves the North Africans with an almost impossible task.
Morocco started the Group B opener in fine fettle, moving the ball quickly and fashioning a glut of early chances. All were spurned, with Hakim Ziyech the guiltiest party. The Ajax man swung wildly at a fifth-minute cut back and connected only with thin air.
Fifteen minutes later Younes Belhanda and Mehdi Benatia could empathize with their teammate as both missed the chance to score their country’s first World Cup goal since 1998 in a frantic goalmouth scramble.
Despite the dominance of the men in red, Iran offered a threat on the break and should have taken the lead on the stroke of half time. Carlos Queiroz’ side won possession in the middle third and Sardar Azman was played through on goal. But the forward dwelt far too long and allowed goalkeeper Munir to make a smart double save.
The early stages of the second period lacked the impetus and invention of the first as both sides struggled to find any rhythm. Ziyech’s low 80th minute volley was as close as either side came after the break but Iranian keeper Alireza Beiranvand did well to push round the post.
It was to prove a critical stop as, with time running out, Iran swung in a freekick in from the left. Saint Pauli forward Aziz Bouhaddouz attempted to clear with a diving header but could only divert the ball in to his own net.
While the win leaves Herve Renard’s Moroccans realistically needing to take points against both Spain and Portugal, Iran’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages for the first time are very much alive.
As it happened
FULL TIME: Morocco 0-1 Iran (Bouhaddouz OG 90+4')
FULL TIME! Late goals are proving to be a running theme on Day 2 of the World Cup...
FULL TIME! Unbelievable. Iran snatch victory at the last. Bouhaddouz will be remembered as the tragic hero, while Iran's goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand should take 'Man of the Match' honours. Morocco will lament missed chances. They didn't convert their dominance into goals and are punished ruthlessly by plucky Iran.
90+4' - GOAL! Aziz Bouhaddouz puts a free-kick beyond his own keeper with a header at the front post. Agony for Morocco. Joy for Iran!
90' - Morocco are becoming increasingly desperate in their bid for the opening goal. They've got an extra six minutes to work with as the fourth official's board goes up.
87' - Lots being made of the head injury and subsequent treatment received by Nordin Amrabat. For more on the subject click here to read our very own Michael da Silva's report.
84' - Fouls. Free-kicks. Corners. Injuries and now cramps. There have been a lot of stoppages in the second half.
82' - Eight minutes remain. Eight minutes for Morocco or Iran to grab the game by the scruff of the neck to give themselves the best chance of staying alive in Group B. Can either of them muster up a winner?
80' - BIG CHANCE! Morocco work the ball across the face of the box where it falls kindly for Hakim Ziyech to strike at goal. The ball was destined for the bottom corner, but Beiranvand is again on hand to rescue his side.
76' - Aziz Bouhhadouz is coming on for Morocco. Fun fact, he's the first St. Pauli player to feature at a World Cup since 1990.
73' - Nordin Amrabat comes off second best in a challenge and, after a nasty clash of heads, looks like he got his bell rung. He's wobbly getting to his feet and looks set to come off.
68' - Persistent fouls from both sides are preventing the game finding it's rhythm in the second half. Iran will be the happier if it stays this way.
64' - With both of these sides set to face Spain and Portugal in Group B, you have to think that, while Iran are unadventurous going forward, they are demonstratring qualities that will frustrate the two Iberian sides. Morocco for all their attractive play today, won't be afforded the same luxuries and have shown enough vulnerability on the counter to cause concern.
61' - Goalscoring opportunities are proving hard to come by for both sides. The decibel levels raise when Morocco are awarded a corner, which comes to nothing.
54' - Iran are doing a much better job of stifling Morocco's most enterprising advances in the second half. While Carlos Queiroz's men aren't demonstrating a lot of attacking threat themselves, they will be pleased with how tight they're keeping things are the back.
48' - More good work from Nordin Amrabat on the right wing brings about the first chance fo the second half. Unfortunately, having misread the flight of Amrabat's cross, Harit can't turn his volley on target.
SECOND HALF! We're back underway. Are we on course for the first goalless game of the World Cup 2018 or can one of these sides take command of the encounter?
HALF TIME! The Bundesliga Rookie of the Season has looked very lively for Morocco.
HALF TIME! A worthy cause...
HALF TIME! It's still deadlocked at the break between Morocco and Iran. Morocco have enjoyed the lion's share of possession as well as more goalscoring chances, but it was Iran who went closest to opening their account with Azmoun's golden opportunity on the stroke of half time. Iran will potentially look back on that missed chance as a turning point, while for Morocco it will serve as a warning shot they need to heed if they're to turn their domination into goals.
43' - Best chance of the game and it goes to Iran. For the first time the underdogs break in behind on the counter, but Azmoun can't squeeze the ball past the onrushing Mohamedi, who then produces a follow up save from Jahanbakhsh to keep the game goalless. That would have been a late twist in the tale of the first half!
41' - From Iran's perspective, they are trying to pick and choose their moments to break on the counter, but are often being thwarted by poor first touches as well as some impressive defending from the Moroccan backline.
37' - Meanwhile...
35' - Alireza Jahanbakhsh fancies his chances with a free-kick 30 yards out and... smashes it well off target.
33' - Morocco have dominated the midfield battle for the majority of this game. The way they've played their football so far, I can see them winning over a lot of neutrals today.
30' - Huge chance for Morocco! Amine Harit dances his way into the Iran penalty area and, with no one up in support, goes for goal himself. The 20-year-old tries to curl one towards the far post, but can't work with the tight angle as Beiranvand makes a comfortable save.
23' - Everyone still can't get over that save from Beiranvand.
20' - Signs of life! A counter attack for Iran sees the game open up for the underdogs for the first time, but Fajr's delivery is poor and fails to find a teammate.
18' - How. On. Earth? Morocco's free-kick wreaks havoc in the box, but with the ball pinging around, neither Belhanda, nor Benatia can find a way through all the bodies in the penalty area to break the deadlock. Alireza Beiranvand made a great save somewhere in the mix as well.
16 ' - I don't mean to keep waxing lyrical about Morocco, but they are playing some of the nicest football we've seen so far this summer. Slick one-touch passing and patient possession play are rendering Iran's chances of making an impact null and void. All they need now is the cutting edge in the final third to reward them with a goal their opening gambit has deserved.
12' - One thing is for certain: the fans in attendance are enjoying every second of the occasion and making quite the racket!
9' - Herve Renard has to be happy with what he's seen from his side so far. Morocco are looking sharp, retaining possession well and threatening in the final third. For all their probing so far though, we're still yet to see the first clear-cut chance of the game.
5' - It's all Morocco in the early going. Hakim Ziyech whiffs at a cutback to the edge of the area before Younes Belhanda flashes a header off target.
2' - I said to keep your eyes on Harit and it's the Schalke star who gets the first shot of the game off. A scuffed volley from the edge of the area though, fails to cause Beiranvand any problems.
KICK OFF! The ball is rolling in Saint Petersburg. Group B is officially underway. Can either Morocco or Iran give themselves a boost ahead of their Spain and Portugal double headers? Keep your eyes on Amine Harit. He could be the difference maker.
16:57 CET If Morocco or Iran are to cause an upset in Group B then they will have to get a result in their opener. Morocco are favorites to pick up a victory here and have an enterprising team on show.
16:49 CET Amine Harit was named the Bundesliga Rookie of the Year after a spectacular debut season with Schalke and is now set to take the stage in the 2018 World Cup.
16:45 CET - TEAM NEWS
16:40 CET Two games and six goals into the 2018 World Cup and the matches are coming thick and fast! Following a thrilling end to Uruguay's clash with Egypt, we now turn our attention to proceedings in Group B. Morocco and Iran get the ball rolling in Saint Petersburg with Portugal set to take on Spain later tonight.