World Cup 2018: 3 key battles that decided the game as Portugal beat Morocco
Not often do you see a team score in the 4th minute, and then spend the next 86 minutes holding on for dear life, and you certainly do not expect Portugal to be that team. But that is exactly what happened, as Portugal held out for a 1-0 win against Morocco to go to the top place in the group.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored within the first 5 minutes with a bullet header, and that was it as for the most part.
Morocco took control of the game, and kept getting closer and closer but that final knock-out punch never came from them. In the end, the strike proved to be the only difference between the sides in the 2018 World Cup clash.
As always, there were a few individual battles that went a long way in deciding the final outcome of the fixture. Here's a look at 3 of them,
#1 Hakim Ziyech vs Cedric Soares
To call Ziyech the best player of this match would be an understatement. Slotted as the left winger, Ziyech ran pretty much the entire game, and was the player around which all of Morocco's attack revolved.
On corners, he was there. When defending corners, he was there to take the ball and start the counters. On free-kicks, he was there to send the ball floating into the box. Despite everything he did, Morocco couldn't find it in them to put the ball into the net.
Cedric Soares will be seeing visions of a red-and-green clad Ziyech running past him, around him, and through him for the next couple days. It was to his credit that he never got frustrated and never tripped Ziyech foolishly in the box, as that is what most defenders would have chosen to do.
In the end, that was enough for Portugal. They have shown that they are capable of grinding out a result, no matter how ugly it looks on the pitch.