Portugal beat Morocco 1-0 in their first stage FIFA World Cup Group B match at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday.
Portuguese captain’s Cristiano Ronaldo netted a header for a 4th minute goal for the Iberian nation. Midfielder Joao Moutinho gained control of the ball after a touched corner kick on the right side. He then sent a cross toward the back post. Ronaldo came flying in and headed the ball into the net past Moroccan keeper Munir Mohand Mohamedi.
The finish gives Ronaldo four goals so far at the World Cup, surpassing Russia’s Denis Cheryshev. The Russia forward scored his third goal of the tournament in a 3-1 win against Egypt Tuesday at Saint Petersburg Stadium.
Cristiano Ronaldo also broke the record of legendary Hungarian striker Ferenc Puskas’ for international goals scored for a European team taking his tally to 85 goals. Only Iran’s Ali Daei is now ahead of Ronaldo in the international goalscoring sweepstakes, with 109 goals. Ronaldo reached his tally of 85 in 151 appearances.
The Moroccan team failed to score despite creating a number of opportunities. Morocco continued to press forward and Portugal really held on to the end. Morocco’s pressure showed the problems Portugal had in their midfield. The problem persists because of Morocco’s lack of a clinical forward – a finisher.
Portugal now leads Group B, followed by Iran, Spain and Morocco in that order.
Despite the Atlas Lions’ hard fought attempt to find an equaliser, today’s 1-0 loss means Morocco have been eliminated from Russia 2018. They still have a chance to play spoiler in Group B, though, when they take on Spain in Kaliningrad on Monday.
There is history between these teams, as well as Ronaldo and Morocco center back Mehdi Benatia.
Morocco and Portugal played each other at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and the Moroccans won 3-1 to enter the round of 16 while Portugal finished last. The last time Ronaldo and Benatia faced each other was in April in a Champions League quarterfinal match. Benatia, playing for Juventus, pushed a Real Madrid player to draw a penalty. Ronaldo scored and Madrid advanced on its way to a record 13th European title.
Morocco are the second African side to have lost both games played so far, after Egypt lost to host Russia on Tuesday after going down to Uruguay in their first game. Egypt will also be eliminated if Uruguay win against Saudi Arabia.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups will proceed to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.