Iran and Morocco had big shoes to fill coming into their opening match, following an inaugural match in which Russia established home dominance in a 5 goal win against Saudi Arabia. Iran and Morocco have only played once before, which ended in a draw, and have never faced each other in a World Cup match. Morocco are playing in their first World Cup since 1998, and Iran have qualified in back-to-back World Cups for the first time in their history. The stage is set for what should be an interesting match between the two sides.
In the opening minutes, both defenses struggle to clear balls from their own boxes. Chaos in front of goal in the 19th minute gave way to a flurry of shots on goal from Morocco, but no dice. Iranian defense prevails and the ball is cleared.
A beautiful cross to El Kaabi in the Iranian penalty box, who is just inches behind what could have been a golazo of an opening goal, narrowly misses the strikers head in the 38th minute.
Iranian striker Azmoun finally finds space on a breakaway in the 42nd minute. Morrocan goalkeeper Munir Mohamedi makes the save. 2 minutes later, Iran are awarded a free kick at the 30 yard mark. Haji Safi's free kick skims the crossbar as it narrowly misses.
Morocco-0 Iran-0 at half. Morroco is out possessing Iran a whopping 68% to 32%, and out passing the Iranian side by triple digits, although the chances created Iranian counter attacks could be the game decider.
Second half starts out chippy. A lot of contact between players as tension and frustration rises, climaxing in the 72nd minute when a collision occurs on the right wing in Iran's half, leaving Nordin Amrabat dazed on the sidelines. He eventually gets up, but obviously concussed and is replaced on the pitch by his brother Sofyan Amrabat.
79th minute we see the first threatening goal shot from Morocco. Ziyech sending a rocket to lower right corner of goal, but Beirandvard makes a fingertip save on the midfielder's shot. Still 0-0.
With 7 minutes to go in the 90, another injury for Iran as Jahanbakhsh is taken off on a stretcher. The seriousness of his injury is uncertain, but the star player's absence could mean bad things going forward for Iran. He is replaced by Saman Ghoddos.
A whopping 6 minutes of added time is declared by the ref as shoving occurs between the two sides not only on the pitch but on the sidelines between the teams' technical staff. Yellow Card given to Iran's Aziz Ansarifard.
93rd minute goal!!! Iran are awarded a free kick from a threatening position. Ehsan Haji Safi sails the ball into the box and Moroccan striker Aziz Bouhaddouz attempts an ambitious headed clearance which sends the ball past his own goalkeeper and into his own goal. Morocco-0 Iran-1! Time expires.
What a miraculous ending for the Iranian side, who were out-passed 3 to 1 by the Moroccans, and what a detrimental finish Morocco will not soon forget.