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18th of July 2018

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Ronaldo Earns Portugal 1-0 Win as Morocco's Hopes End | Jakarta Globe

Moscow. Cristiano Ronaldo powered-home a fourth-minute header to give Portugal a 1-0 World Cup victory over Morocco that took it to the top of Group B on Wednesday (20/06) and meant the unlucky North African side becomes the first to be eliminated from the tournament.

Ronaldo's fourth goal of Russia 2018, following his hat-trick in the 3-3 draw with Spain, took the European champion to four points. Iran has three points and Spain one ahead of their meeting later on Wednesday.

Morocco, which had a real go at Luzhniki Stadium but failed to convert its chances, is pointless having also lost 1-0 to Iran and cannot progress to the second round.

Despite its battling display, Morocco will rue the unforgivable defending that made all its subsequent good work irrelevant.

The team qualified for the finals without conceding a goal in six matches yet somehow opted against marking the most dangerous attacker at the tournament in the six-yard box when João Moutinho swung in a cross from a short corner and Ronaldo duly buried the header.

It was his 85th international goal, taking him beyond Hungarian Ferenc Puskás's European record, with only Iran's Ali Daei ahead of him on 109.

Morocco, in its first finals appearance for 20 years, regrouped well and showed some real positivity in attack with Hakim Ziyech and Nordin Amrabat seeing plenty of the ball but Portugal generally defended well to limit the danger.

Amrabat was furious at not being awarded a penalty after wrestling with Raphaël Guerreiro and the entire squad erupted in outrage.

Coach Hervé Renard was also ticked off for the new offence of gesticulating to demand a video assistant referee (VAR) review of the incident, which left Amrabat with rugby-style stud-rake marks on his stomach that he insisted on displaying to anyone who would look.

Morocco was the dominant side in the second half and Portugal was grateful to goalkeeper Rui Patrício for a fantastic diving low save to touch clear Younès Belhanda's sharp header, while Medhi Benatia blazed over the bar when he should have scored after an hour.

However, Portugal held out and goes on to complete its first-round against Iran while Morocco faces Spain, both on June 25.

Reuters

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