Morocco 0 Iran 1: Bouhaddouz own-goal gifts game to Queiroz's men


Iran coach Carlos Queiroz made a plea for football to be separated from politics, minutes after his team beat Morocco 1-0 in their first match of the World Cup on Friday.

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Morocco: Mohammed - Hakimi, Benatia, Saiss - Siah, El Ahmadi - Boussoufa, Harith (Da Costa, 82) - N. Amrabat (S. Amrabat, 76), Al-Kaabi (Bouhaddouz, 76), Belhanda.

Amrabat continued to make inroads down the right flank for Morocco after the interval while their efficiency and organisation at the back cut out Iran's counter-attacks before they reached the final third. Before the match, Iran's coach Carlos Queiroz said his side had been "drawn in the hardest group in the World Cup".

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The encounter seemed destined for a draw Saint-Petersburg Stadium until Aziz Bouhaddouz miscued his header into his own in second-half stoppage time to hand Iran three points.

Play almost ground to a halt in the final 15 minutes amid extended stoppages for injuries to Morocco's Amrabat and Omid Ebrahimi and Alireza Jahanbakhsh of Iran, and the match seemed headed to a draw until Bouhhadouz's miscue.

Before the late goal, Iran striker Sardar Azmoun wasted the best chance when played clean through just before halftime.

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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 a sea of red and white, and buzzing with the hum of vuvuzelas in a throwback to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

It did not matter on Friday as a hard-working Iran side, helped by a combination of poor Moroccan finishing, desperate defending and solid work from Beiranvand, survived early pressure to keep the game goalless.

But the chance was wasted as Azmoun did not show enough composure with Mohamedi denying him and also saving the follow-up attempt from Alireza Jahanbakhsh.

When Bouhaddouz nodded in at the near post, Iran s substitutes could not resist rushing onto the field and when the final whistle blew moments later they were sprinting over again in delight.

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Morocco ran out of steam in the second half, with Iran holding onto the ball for longer, slowing the game down.