Iran beat Morocco thanks to an own goal in extra time

Sherman Parsons
June 18, 2018

They've conceded just three goals in those five games, so Iran will find them a tough nut to crack.

- Aziz Bouhaddouz is just the third player to score an own-goal as a substitute in a World Cup match, after Laszlo Dajka (1986 for Hungary against USSR) and Petit (2006 for Portugal against Germany).

Earlier, the constant din that accompanied the 2010 World Cup in South Africa returned for football's showpiece event eight years on as Morocco and Iran clashed to the noise of screeching vuvuzelas.

Aziz Bouhaddouz, head in his hands and face buried in the turf, was probably unaware of the opposing players and coaches swarming all around him in jubilation.

He was consoled by teammates, while Iran celebrated.

Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group.

A hard-headed pragmatist would tell you both teams had no margin for error here - a truism Bouhaddouz is unlikely to welcome any time soon - with a win a must as European heavyweights Spain and Portugal await in Group B.

Morocco's strategy was clear: get a goal as quickly as possible, and the North Africans threatened the Iran goal multiple times in the first 10 minutes, forcing keeper Ali Beiranvand to stay focused. However, they have never progressed beyond the group stages, managing only a lone win, against bitter rivals U.S. in 1998.

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He'll relish the chance to come up against the country of his birth in Iran's final group game, but this opening match may present something of a problem for Iran as they will have to go out and attack. "We have three teams who are above us in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings", he said in his pre-match conference.

The "Atlas Lions" will be hoping that Monaco winger Nabil Dirar is fit to start.

Iran: Omid Ebrahimi did a crucial job as a marauding shield in the midfield, protecting what was already the strongest global defence in Asia.

Morocco impressed in qualification and only conceded one goal as they made it to the tournament in Russian Federation.

But, despite Morocco having 68% of possession and 13 shots, Iran picked up the victory.

Iran's supporters were not to be outdone in the noise stakes, bringing some of the fire and fury of the Tehran derby to the north of Russian Federation. Iran remains unbeaten in competitive games since the 2014 World Cup, when it only lost to Argentina because of a late victor from Lionel Messi.

Forsaking the half-time analysis of pundits Ryan Giggs, Eni Aluko and Slaven Bilic, I settled down once again for the second half.

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