Iran party rumbles on but Morocco should take pride in their tears

Carlos Queiroz

Carlos Queiroz

However, Iran snatched the victory in stoppage time with Aziz Bouhaddouz netting an own goal following a teasing cross at the near post.

He said: "Iran coach Carlos Queiroz is not exactly known for attacking football and Morocco also play in quite a pragmatic style".

It looked as though neither side would make the most of the chance to start with a victory, only for Bouhaddouz to head past his own goalkeeper at the near-post in the dying stages to hand Iran a 1-0 win.

Iran, making their fifth appearance in the World Cup finals, meanwhile, face Spain in Kazan on 20 June before meeting Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Saransk five days later.

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

Morocco's fans, at a World Cup for the first time in 20 years, belted out their own national anthem and then applauded Iran's, the 67,000-seater arena buzzing with the hum of vuvuzelas in a throwback to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Neymar is Cristiano Ronaldo's heir at Real Madrid - Jorge Valdano
With 44 goals and 16 assists in 52 games in all competitions, Salah is a now the key element in the squad of Hector Cuper. However, the 25-year-old's participation in Egypt's World Cup opener against Uruguay on Friday remains uncertain.

Morocco - watched from the bench by their France 98 hero Mustapha Hadji, who is now a member of Herve Renard's coaching staff - were raucously backed from the warm-up onwards by supporters decked out in red and assisted by the vuvuzela 2.0.

Renard said his team "fell into the trap" set by Iran, which sat back and relied on the defensive strength that carried the team through Asian qualifying by conceding only two goals in 10 games.

"No boots, no problems", said commentator Sam Matterface when summing up Iran's 1-0 win, referring to the fact the victors had not been able to receive a delivery of Nike boots, due to USA sanctions. The strongest backline in Asia was only breached by Syria after Iran's place was secured in Russian Federation.

Earlier this week, Morocco failed in their attempt to win the right to host the 2026 World Cup, losing out to a "United" bid from Canada, the United States and Mexico. Nordin Amrabat and Achraf Hakimi have filled in there but Nabil Dirar may return despite not playing since March. "The banner read "(hashtag) NoBan4Women" and "Support Iranian Women to Attend Stadiums". With Spain and Portugal to come, winning here is the only chance either side has of reaching the last 16.

At St. Petereferee's Krestovsky Stadium, the refree looked at his watch at the 90th minute and made a decision to give six generous minutes for extra-time.

Recommended News

  • Air strikes target Yemen rebel positions in port offensive

    Air strikes target Yemen rebel positions in port offensive

    Two Saudi and UAE aid ships were in the waters off Hodeidah, coalition spokesman Maliki told Saudi state media. For the last three years the Saudi-led coalition hasn't made any major advances.
    Rodman weeps during interview on sidelines of Trump-Kim summit

    Rodman weeps during interview on sidelines of Trump-Kim summit

    Meanwhile, Rodman's relationship with Trump also goes back years when he appeared on his " Celebrity Apprentice " show. Rodman found himself in a rare position as the summit came together , having met both leaders.
    G7 allies confront Trump with trade numbers in tense G7 summit

    G7 allies confront Trump with trade numbers in tense G7 summit

    But differences remain on how to balance French President Emmanuel Macron's call for more solidarity in Europe. Nevertheless, she vowed to continue to work on the often-fractious relationship with Trump's White House.
  • Roger Federer explains his hectic schedule for next 48 hours

    Roger Federer explains his hectic schedule for next 48 hours

    The 36-year-old will need to defend his title at Halle to maintain his No. 1 spot ahead of Wimbledon. I will have a quiet week before Wimbledon with not many things going on, which is great.
    City's 2018/19 Premier League fixtures

    City's 2018/19 Premier League fixtures

    Manchester United starts at home to Leicester and plays only one of last season's top six, Tottenham , in its first eight games. Last season's encounters ended in a victory apiece with both sides claiming victories in their neighbours' own back yard.
    Warriors GM Bob Myers Awkwardly Zings Kevin Durant Over Contract At Parade

    Warriors GM Bob Myers Awkwardly Zings Kevin Durant Over Contract At Parade

    Will he now turn that fire against the team that helped bring him the championships that eluded him for so long in Oklahoma City? As expected, Durant declined his player option for next season in April, which makes him an unrestricted free agent.
  • England's Marcus Rashford expected to train fully on Friday

    England's Marcus Rashford expected to train fully on Friday

    The Football Association indicates it is a precautionary measure and manager Gareth Southgate called it a "slight knock" upon England's arrival.
    Liverpool ace Salah could miss Egypt opener

    Liverpool ace Salah could miss Egypt opener

    Jose Mourinho has warned Russia's players to be wary of the threat of "one of the fastest players in the world" Mohamed Salah . On the messages exchanged between the pair, Mo Salah simply said: "He sent me a message, but I never told him it was okay".
    Fortnite Switch DOWNLOAD is not the Mobile version, uses Nintendo servers

    Fortnite Switch DOWNLOAD is not the Mobile version, uses Nintendo servers

    Will Switch be your main platform for Fortnite now that you can play it there? But Xbox One and PS4 cross-play is a non-starter. Have you got any further questions regarding your Fortnite account? Ask away in the comments section below.
  • Here is the first look at 'Wonder Woman 1984'

    Here is the first look at 'Wonder Woman 1984'

    Yep, Chris Pine will be reprising his role as Wonder Woman's love interest, Steve Trevor , though we're not sure in what capacity. It will be interesting to see Diana in an era of general peace, without the entire world on the brink of destroying itself.
    Griezmann announces decision about his future

    Griezmann announces decision about his future

    I can't take it anymore, I need to tell the people that I want to stay", he said. "I have made a decision to stay". Griezmann will now focus fully on France's World Cup Group C campaign which starts on Saturday against Australia.
    Canada moves a step closer to legalizing marijuana

    Canada moves a step closer to legalizing marijuana

    And industrial hemp, which can be turned into oils or fabrics, wouldn't be classified as marijuana under the proposal. Lawmakers are working on a bill that would create a state charter bank for the industry.

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.