Portugal 1-0 Morocco

An early Cristiano Ronaldo goal has placed Portugal on the brink of group stage qualification, as the Euro 2016 champions were made to sweat for a 1-0 victory over Morocco at the Luzhniki Stadium.

The Real Madrid star took his tally to four goals for the tournament with a well-executed diving header in the 4th minute, but it was Morocco who enjoyed the larger portion of possession and chances created throughout the encounter.

With Rui Patrício starring, the Selecção were able to hold onto their slender advantage come full-time, placing them top of Group B momentarily ahead of Spain's clash against Iran, as Morocco face a World Cup exit.

After much deliberation over Bernardo Silva's and Gonçalo Guedes' inclusion in the Portugal starting XI, Fernando Santos opted to make just one change to the side that drew 3-3 versus Spain, as João Mário replaced Bruno Fernandes in midfield.

For Morocco, Nabil Dirar's return provided Herve Renard's team a big boost at the back, with the well-traveled French manager also finding some space for former Nacional da Madeira defender Manuel da Costa to slot in, partnering Medhi Benatia.

Big Start

The African nation started brightly but Portugal were able to offer the perfect response as early as the 4th minute, as Ronaldo lost his marker inside the box to fire the 'Selecção' a goal up with a diving header, courtesy of João Moutinho's delivery from a short corner.

Ronaldo threatened Morocco's goal once more with a shot scuffed wide in the 8th minute before the danger beamed back at the other end, with Portugal requiring Rui Patrício to hit the deck in order to deny Benatia's back-post header.

The Moroccans grew off the back of their opportunity to dominate spells of the first half but could offer little cutting edge where it truly mattered, as Portugal held onto their 1-0 lead.

Guedes could've eased the strain on Portugal's backline with a second goal in the 40th minute, fed through by Ronaldo's ball over the top, but the Paris Saint-Germain winger wouldn't find a way past Munir Mohamedi on the half-volley.

Morocco came knocking again on the brink of half-time, following Hakim Ziyech's whipped free-kick, as Younes Belhanda's glancing header roamed past the far post and the emerging Manuel da Costa before the interval.

From the restart, Santos' men had the chance to inflict damage upon their opponents early in the 50th minute, with João Mário laying Guedes off from the by-line prior to the ex-Benfica man skewing his shot into Ronaldo's path, who'd also get his measurements all wrong to fire the ball way over the bar.

Morocco ramp up the pressure

Only a world-class save from Patrício stood between Morocco and an equaliser in the 57th minute, with Belhanda again causing all the problems from a set-piece when directing a header at goal, pushed away by the new Wolverhampton Wanderes man. Benatia was next in line to try his luck up against the Portugal number one, lashing a volley over instead on the hour-mark

Set-pieces proved to be Morocco's favourite route to goal, as Benatia looked to cause a spot of bother in the 78th minute, but his attempt from Ziyech's free kick, coming off his shoulder rather than his head, would let Portugal off the hook after going wide at the near-post.

A final half-chance fell Morocco's way in stoppage time, with Renard's side again riding on a Benatia finish prior to the Juventus man blowing his shot over the bar, as Portugal cemented a hard-earned 1-0 win in Moscow.

By Patrick Ribeiro

Portugal: Rui Patrício - Cedric Soares, Pepe, José Fonte, Raphaël Guerreiro - Bernardo Silva (Gelson Martins, 59'), João Moutinho (Adrien Silva, , William Carvalho, João Mário (Bruno Fernandes, 69'), Gonçalo Guedes - Cristiano Ronaldo

Morocco: Munir Mohamedi - Nabil Dirar, Medhi Benatia, Manuel da Costa, Achraf Hakimi - Nordin Amrabat, Younes Belhanda (Medhi Carcela, 75'), Karim El Ahmad (Fayça lFajr, 86'), Mbark Boussoufa, Hakim Ziyech - Khalid Boutaïb (Ayoub El Kaabi, 69')

Goals:

[1-0] - Ronaldo (4')

 

Comments (52)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

The midfield was utter garbage. Again playing to the level of opponent. Everybody is saying William played well but he is a shell of a player he was at Euro 2016. Also many players tried to take on one player too many. Need to play another...

The midfield was utter garbage. Again playing to the level of opponent. Everybody is saying William played well but he is a shell of a player he was at Euro 2016. Also many players tried to take on one player too many. Need to play another goalscorer besides Ronaldo. Andre Silva would have buried the Guedes chance.

Also Ronaldo has the same tendancy of playing to the level of opponent. I know his goal was the difference but still he was a little too passive and grumpy. Against Spain he was pressing, tracking back in defense being the legend that he is.

Hopefully Santos gives the players an earful and they are ready for Quieroz's Iran. It can only go up from here. FORCA PORTUGAL.

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Ronaldo keeps dragging his band of misfits. I would hate not to see Portugal in World Cup 2026, considering it's being held in my backyard. Portugal cannot win without him.

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It looked like Portugal had one midfielder this game and it was William the others were chasing shadows, Rafael was bullied and I don’t recall anyone trying to help him, just like Spain we scored early also had a chance to make 2-0 but didn’t and...

It looked like Portugal had one midfielder this game and it was William the others were chasing shadows, Rafael was bullied and I don’t recall anyone trying to help him, just like Spain we scored early also had a chance to make 2-0 but didn’t and instead suffered greatly being absolutely outpaced and overrun. Gelson should’ve started in the beginning, we needed faster players to help win the ball back it also seemed like every 50/50 was lost. Rui did a fantastic save to prevent a sure goal. We have struggled against defences sides but these two games haven’t shown Portugal struggling against attacking sides. I hate when people say Ronaldo carries us but these games have shown me they are right... where are we going to get goals from if not for Ronaldo? Guedes has been disappointing offensively should’ve scored two goals by now, give Andres Silva a chance against Iran

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Have shown Portugal Struggling against attacking sides*

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The good:

Rui Patricio withstood massive pressure and did well. Ronaldo, got the winning goal by smarts and sheer effort, attacked the corner fearlessly. The team battled a very one sided referee and still didn't concede. They kept there heads...

The good:

Rui Patricio withstood massive pressure and did well. Ronaldo, got the winning goal by smarts and sheer effort, attacked the corner fearlessly. The team battled a very one sided referee and still didn't concede. They kept there heads despite a very one sided calls in the beginning of the game, and then adapted, by knowing the ref was going to let Morocco's fouling and physicality dictate the game. It is difficult to play when your touch is a foul and their hack in fair. It is quite a mental challenge.

It was funny, in one foul called on Portugal by Rafa, the replay showed a two handed push in the back to Rafa to clear him off of the ball, before Rafa mostly cleanly won the ball back, that was called a foul. Fox stopped showing foul replays for a bit after that.

The bad:

They tried to play in small spaces, knowing Morocco would just foul us off of the ball. Then if that didn't work, just heave it forward or with plenty of time, head the ball right to Morocco player, instead of calmly controlling it and gaining possession.

The ugly:

The game, Morocco's tactics(fouling), the ref(Morocco's fouls mostly unpunished, Portugal's touch fouls given), Morocco's finishing, Portugal's offense after Ronaldo's goal(except Guedes chance).


The way to stop Portugal has been shown, a physical game where fouls go unpunished, really one yellow?

Few player observations:

Early on Bernardo played ok, but when the physical stuff started, he couldn't adapt.

Guedes has been knocked around both games and hasn't adapted. I would see him in Valencia fighting off players as he makes his runs. So far in the world cup, he hasn't recognized he needs to be stronger, not just faster. He has the strength, don't know why he is using it.

Adrien Silva, boy he seemed shell shocked coming into the game, wasn't he watching it.

Gelson, looked like he was going to do something, but decided somehow he was going to go through players and draw fouls? Didn't he watch what was happening to Bernardo?

Bruno, run out the clock. If everyone held up a counter to run out the clock, why the crazy shot? Maybe thought only a few seconds left. Either way, run it out!


Against Iran:

Clearly if the lose to Spain, the will employ similar tactics. Need more size and toughness. Go with a 4-4-2, Andre with Ronaldo up top, Guedes on left wing, Gelson on right wing, Everyone else the same. I would keep Moutinho in there because of his mental toughness, but Adrien or Bruno would be fine also.

Key is expect to be fouled and battle back.

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I did not think Mountinho had a great game at all

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I don't think he did either. I mentioned him because I would be indifferent to him being there or someone else. I wouldn't vouch for anyone at that position at this point, after the Morocco performance.

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A win is a win but this was a horrific performance. Guerrero was a disaster in the back today as he was continuously beat. He fouled when their was no need to and was always chasing the forward. The midfield was always trying to force plays...

A win is a win but this was a horrific performance. Guerrero was a disaster in the back today as he was continuously beat. He fouled when their was no need to and was always chasing the forward. The midfield was always trying to force plays when they weren't there. I cant tell you how many times I watched them forcing plays to the same sideline instead of just recycling the play and switching fields. They pressed too much and looked very pedestrian today. Santos needs to make sure this does not happen again. They bring this lazy play into the round of 16 and they are out easily.

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Awful, garbage display. Lazy, disinterested, giveaways non stop, Bernardo Silva not for the first or second time worst player on the pitch.

They get the win but serious attitude change is required. Thank GOD for Ronaldo.

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What a dreadfull game. Why can't we play football like against Belgium and algeria? It baffles me how they think they're gonna do it again with these tactics.

Our midfield was weak, Bernardo Silva very poor and Guedes shouldve scored.

No, we...

What a dreadfull game. Why can't we play football like against Belgium and algeria? It baffles me how they think they're gonna do it again with these tactics.

Our midfield was weak, Bernardo Silva very poor and Guedes shouldve scored.

No, we won't go far with this play, we have been exposed and if Morrocco had better attackers they would have trashed us.

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I told my cousin that I feel guilty after that game. After the ref blew the final whistle I honestly had this feeling like I personally did something wrong. I’m just going to go ahead and convince myself that the entire team got shit faced last...

I told my cousin that I feel guilty after that game. After the ref blew the final whistle I honestly had this feeling like I personally did something wrong. I’m just going to go ahead and convince myself that the entire team got shit faced last night off of Sagres. I think Rui was the sober driver of the bus. I have no other explanation, just everyone was terrible. The only thing I’ll add of relevance is I think Morocco is better than the media think they are. 90% of their team play in Europe and they play with energy. That energy is why the USA surprised teams in previous world cups(I live in New York). Yes they fouled us often but they wanted the game more than us, we thought we won before the game started.

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I agree in theory with what everyone has said. It was a shambolic display, with no bite, no fire. The pundits across the world will skewer the team and continue calling it the Ronaldo show.

Can we argue against that this tournament? Not...

I agree in theory with what everyone has said. It was a shambolic display, with no bite, no fire. The pundits across the world will skewer the team and continue calling it the Ronaldo show.

Can we argue against that this tournament? Not really.

But, let's look at the whole picture. We are getting results playing very badly. Yes, we are playing to our opponents quality, but at the end, we are still getting results. Say what you will, there is something to be said about that. If we can instill that same mentality of being hard to break down as we had in the Euros, I believe in the team.

There is also something to be said about peaking at the right time. Russia has looked incredible, but are they peaking too early? If Portugal can start picking up steam next game, get into the knockouts and keep that momentum going, then our tunes will all change.

Of course, I could be wrong about all I just said. At the end of the day, result supercedes style.

Forca

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This was how Italy does World Cup wins, start slow and shaky, then somehow squeeze through every game and get a cup, I believe we can do it this year as well, though now pretty

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Embarrassing,Shameful,Disgraceful, Pathetic, just a few of the words to describe that performance. Worst match under Fernando Santos by far

Joao Mário should just be sent home. What a useless liability he was out there.

Bernardo Silva has been...

Embarrassing,Shameful,Disgraceful, Pathetic, just a few of the words to describe that performance. Worst match under Fernando Santos by far

Joao Mário should just be sent home. What a useless liability he was out there.

Bernardo Silva has been the biggest let down this entire tournament. Is it surprising though? This guy has never done a single worthwhile thing in a Portugal shirt and yet he’s a guaranteed starter. He needs to sit in the bench for a while until he shows he deserves to play.

Gonçalo Guedes- another massive disappointment. Off to the bench he goes.

Andre Silva should be beyond pissed off at this point. He’s done nothing to get dropped and yet mediocrity has been playing instead of him.

These players acted as if this win was owed to them. Zero heart. Zero passion. If it wasn’t for the hacking down of our players that this ref kept allowing I would almost feel bad for the Moroccans for losing.

The fact that Pepe had to scream at Santos to do something says it all. Even then his subs were dumb. Adrien came in too late and Bruno and Gelson were pointless. This game was perfect for Quaresma and André Silva yet they both stayed all match on the bench.

We should be thanking Ronaldo and Patricio for saving us once again.

------------------------Rui Patrício-------------------------------
Cédric Soares-------Pepe-------José Fonte-------Raphaël Guerreiro
Bruno Fernandes-------William Carvalho------Adrién Silva------
Ricardo Pereira-----------André Silva------Cristiano Ronaldo---------

Quaresma first sub off the bench.

We should start thinking about going back to 433. This 442 gives us more problems than solutions as too many players are played out of position.

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