World Cup 2018: 3 key battles that decided the Morocco versus Iran game
Morocco has had to endure an awful couple of days. After losing a World Cup hosting bid to the United states, they crumbled to a loss after a 93rd minute own goal, that too from a player who was subbed in just 10 minutes prior. Talk about rough.
It was a highly defensive display from both the sides, and just when it looked like it was heading to a much deserved 0-0 draw, disaster stuck.
The game saw a total of 36 fouls, and the high intensity play made a lot of the players suffer cramps as well. This is also Iran's first World Cup victory since 1998.
As always, there were a few individual battles that went a long way in deciding the outcome of the game. Here's a look at 3 of them.
#1 Hakim Ziyech vs Rouzbeh Cheshmi
Ziyech was talked up as the player with the most creativity in the Moroccan team, and it turned out to be the truth. As soon as Ziyech got hold of the ball, the Moroccan players spread themselves all over the pitch in anticipation of a long ball, and Ziyech delivered more often than not.
The downside to his game was that he was not as involved in the second half as he was in the first, thereby letting Iran back into the game.
Despite that, he had the chance to put Morocco ahead in the 80th minute, but his shot was saved brilliantly by a diving Munir in goal.
Cheshmi was responsible for Morocco not running away with the game early in the first half, as he stepped up to slow down the pace of the game and stop the balls from Ziyech finding their intended targets.
His presence in the air was vital, as most of the crosses were dangerous and could have turned the tide of the game had they worked out.