As it happened: Iran steal vital win at the death in Group B

As it happened: Iran steal vital win at the death in Group B

Ewan Kingsbury
MoroccoMunir; N Amrabat (S Amrabat 76'), Benatia, Saïss, Achraf; El Ahmadi; Belhanda, Harit (da Costa 82'), Boussoufa, Ziyech; El Kaabi (Bouhaddouz 77').
IranBeiranvand, Rezaeian, Pouraliganji, Cheshmi, Hajsafi, Ebrahimi (Montazeri 78'), Masoud (Taremi 66'), Jahanbakhsh (Ghoddos 84'), Ansarifard, Amiri, Azmoun
SCORE(0-1) 95' Bouhaddouz (OG)
REFEREECüneyt Çakir (TUR). Booked: Masoud Shojaei 10' (IRN). El Ahmadi 34' (MOR).
INCIDENTS2018 World Cup Group B match between Morocco and Iran at the Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg, Russia.
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Check out the match report when it's published, and I'll be back soon for another live commentary!

What a way to end my first ever live commentary for VAVEL. Hope you have enjoyed, I've been Ewan Kingsbury (with some help from Sam Straw), thank you for following along.

A historic moment for Iran, winning only their second ever World Cup game. Heartbreaking for Morocco, who will surely exit this tournament at the group stage. 


90+5: Well, well, well. It's a spectacular own goal from Bouhaddouz after a free-kick from the left. 

90+5: GOAL IRAN!

90+2: Ansarifard picks up a yellow card in a little scuffle, and that prompts an altercation between Carlos Queiroz and Herve Renard. 

90:  There will be six minutes of added time played at the end of the second half. 

90:  Well it's now or never for both teams in this game, and probably in the tournament considering the group they are in. The board is about to come up... 

89: The many breaks in this second half have really disrupted the flow of the game and it may now be too late for either of these teams to come out on top. 

84: Another injury break as Alireza Jahanbakhsh departs on a stretcher - Ostersund's Saman Ghoddos replaces him.

82: Morocco's Harit comes off for Manuel da Costa.

80: Ziyech lets fly with a sweet strike in a rare Morocco opportunity from the edge of the box, producing a good save from Beiranvand. 

78: Another big break in play as Omid Ebrahimi comes off for Pejman Montazeri due to injury.

76: Coming off for Morocco is the aforementioned Nordin Amrabat, who will be replaced by his brother Sofiane Amrabat. Ayoub El Kaabi departs in favour of Aziz Bouhaddouz.

75: Double change ready for Morocco...

73: Amrabat looks a bit worse for wear after a nasty collision with the turf. The ex-Watford winger looks dazed and confused, and in this day and age that means he will have to leave the field. 

70: The corner comes to nothing but Iran are penning Morocco in with 20 minutes remaining. 

69: Jahanbakhsh wins a corner after a good knock-down from Azmoun. Let's see what they can do...

66: The booked Shojaei makes way for Mehdi Taremi, who plays in Qatar for Al-Gharafa.

65: This game is dwindling ever so slightly, but the two teams substitutions will bring it back to life. Here comes the first Iranian change... 

56: Ebrahimi makes a brilliant lunging challenge in his own half but appears to have injured himself in the process. He will be a big miss if he has to go off, as he and Shojaei have been very impressive in the middle of the park. 

52: Iran have a passing accuracy of 61%, and it's apparent in their play. Not only can they not find a final ball, they sometimes can't even pass it out from the back properly. 

49: Amrabat floats a lovely cross to the back post for Harit to volley, but he miscues horribly. Goal kick. 

47: Jahanbakhsh picks up a harsh yellow card from Cuneyt Cakir. Remember, two yellow cards in this tournament means a one game ban. 

46:  Here we go, a huge half for both teams. Both need a win if they are to have any chance of progressing.  

The second half is just minutes away. Will Iran continue their dominance, or will Morocco resume control as they did at the start of the game?

Iran will be disappointed they aren't 1-0 up after that huge chance for Azmoun and Jahanbakhsh towards the end of the first half. Morocco will be glad to be heading in goalless, but will wonder where it all went wrong as they lost control of the game and let Iran grow. 


45: Two minutes of added time will be played at the end of the first half. 

43: Azmoun rushes through after a great ball in, but keeper Munir Mohamedi is equal to his tame effort and the rebound from Jahanbakhsh. Morocco are on the ropes just before half-time. 

38: Azmoun goes down without contact in a huge concern for Iran and Carlos Quieroz, but he looks set to continue. 

34: Karim El Ahmadi goes into the book for a cynical challenge on Azmoun, stopping Iran in their tracks.  

32: A free-kick into the Morocco box pings around before falling to Rouzbeh Chesmi, and with the Africans too busy claiming handball to defend he blazes well over. Opportunity missed. 

28: Iran slowly edging into this game but they need to get Jahanbakhsh involved more to bring the best out of Azmoun in the middle. 

20: Iran get their first breakaway, with Karim Ansarifard trying to pull the ball across the goal for the onrushing Sardar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakhsh, but the pass was well underweighted. 

19: Some shocking Iran defending of a Ziyech cross leads to a goalmouth scramble, and Alireza Beiranvand comes to the Asian side's rescue with a big save. 

16: Iran settling down after a nervy start but Morocco still look like the team with the most quality. Iran sitting deep but the early signs are that they will be exploited very easily at the back. 

10: AEK Athens midfielder Masoud Shojaei picks up the first yellow card of the game for a rash challenge on halfway. 

9: Ayoub El Kaabi goes close with a half-volley inside the Iran box. This game is one-way traffic so far. 

5: Nordin Amrabat does well to get in behind the Iran defenders and finds a cross towards the near post and Younes Belhanda, but the Galatasaray man can't keep his header down. 

3: A well-drilled corner routine falls to Hakim Ziyech on the edge of the Iran penalty area, but the Ajax man misses his kick. 

Morocco: Munir; Amrabat, Benatia, Saïss, Achraf; El Ahmadi; Belhanda, Harit, Boussoufa, Ziyech; El Kaabi.

Iran: Beiranvand, Rezaeian, Pouraliganji, Cheshmi, Hajsafi, Ebrahimi, Masoud, Jahanbakhsh, Ansarifard, Amiri, Azmoun

1: We are underway in Saint Petersburg with Morocco in the red and Iran in the white. Teams to follow. 

There has been some early team news ahead of this match. Morocco are hoping that right-back Nabil Dirar is fit enough to play as he has been struggling of late with a calf injury and subsequently missed their recent friendlies against Slovakia and Estonia. Iran will be without suspended defensive midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi whilst they have doubts over whether Mehdi Taremi and Askhan Dejagah will be fit enough to play a part. 

What happened the last time these two sides met? Well, these two have in fact never met before at all in their history. As mentioned earlier, both countries will see this as a must-win match with games against Portugal and Spain to come, which could result in a very open encounter - a good sign for the neutrals watching on. 

As for Iran, their star player has got to be Sardar Azmoun. The 23-year-old is arguably the best striker in Asia on current form and has already racked up an impressive 23 goals for the international team since making his debut in May 2014. He was one of the top scorers in qualifying with a total of 11 goals and he will fancy his chances of adding to that this afternoon in this game. Iran have only ever won one match at the World Cup finals and Azmoun will be the man who could potentially change that this summer if he is able to deliver as he has been doing of late. 

So who are the key players for both sides? The main man for Morocco is undoubtedly Benatia. The French-born ex-Bayern Munich star brings experience to Morocco’s backline and will not be phased by the pressure of playing at a major international tournament such as this. He needs to ensure that he keeps his fellow defenders in check as Morocco’s best chance of being successful is by keeping things tight at the back and hitting their opponents on the break. They do also have the ability to score goals at the other end. Khalid Boutaïb was their top scorer in qualifying with four goals and he will be looking to add to that tally here. 

These two sides are very similar to each other in regards to both being solid at the back. Morocco are a very resilient side under the management of Hervé Renard and they conceded just one goal in qualifying. This is largely down to the central defensive partnership of Mehdi Benatia and Roman Saïss, who will both be vital for their side throughout the summer in Russia. If they can maintain their high standards throughout the tournament, Morocco could cause an upset and potentially find a way out of this group. 

This may not be the most intriguing game of the World Cup so far, but who knows, it could turn out to be a superb game of football! This is the first time that Morocco have qualified for the World Cup in a whopping 20 years whilst it is the first time that Iran have qualified for back-to-back World Cups in their history. This game presents a fantastic opportunity for both sides to try and begin their World Cup campaign with a victory to give them the best chance of progressing in a tough group which also includes Portugal and Spain. 

Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK’s live minute-by-minute coverage of this afternoon’s World Cup group stage match between Morocco and Iran at the Krestovsky Stadium. The game gets underway at 4.00pm, but stick around until then because we’ll have plenty of build-up to keep you entertained. 


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