It was a largely forgettable game in the first clash of Group B in the 2018 World Cup as Morocco took on Iran. The African side had the majority of the possession but looked like they didn’t know what to do with it quite often. Iran for their part had a number of excellent chances on the counter attack but wasted them with poor choices when the goal was beckoning. It was almost like watching Everton playing against Everton.
However there was heartbreak in store for Morocco as a stop-start second half littered with careless tackles and resulting injuries ended in six minutes of time being added on. With just a minute of that to play, Iran won a freekick out wide on the left. As the ball swung into the box, substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz leaped forward to head the ball clear and ended up misdirecting it into his own goal. Tragedy.
xG map for Morocco - Iran. The fundamental story of this game was Morocco's inefficiency -- so much good progressive play, so completely nothing inside the penalty area. pic.twitter.com/sZPNlKo87A— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) June 15, 2018
Spain are one of the favourites for the tournament but their preparation for the global showcase were rocked with manager Julen Lopetegui getting sacked in a behind-the-scenes ego battle the day before the opening festivities.
Cristiano Ronaldo then proceeded to rub it in dispatching an early penalty to shoot Portugal into a 1-0 lead after just four minutes. However, Diego Costa beasted his way past the Portuguese defence to tie the game about halfway through the game, before Ronaldo took advantage of a horrid lapse from David De Gea to put the Portuguese in the lead again just before the break.
A three-minute spell of magic from the Spaniards turned this game around on its head though soon after the break, with Costa equalizing and then Nacho making up for his penalty gaffe by putting Spain ahead with an incredible shot.
However, there was always another goal (or three) in this game, and it was Ronaldo putting his stamp on it in the 88th minute with a wonderful freekick that gave them the late equalizer in a match that neither side deserved to lose.
xG map for Portugal - Spain.— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) June 15, 2018
imo soccer is better with lots and lots of ridiculous goals pic.twitter.com/BMCdJ0KN5c
After one game each, Group B is interestingly poised with Iran on top, Spain not looking invincible, Ronaldo carrying Portugal again and Morocco flattering to deceive.