07:30 pm: Disappointment for Morocco, delight for CR7 and Portugal. That will be it from us for this game. Soon, Uruguay will take on Saudi Arabia, a match that could seal Egypt’s fate. Live blog of that here.
FULL-TIME: There are no style points at the World Cup, unfortunately, and Morocco have paid the price for not scoring the goal that their performances have deserved – so many chances, not a single goal to show for it.
FULL TIME - MOROCCO ARE KNOCKED OUT! The North Africans become the first team to be mathematically knock out of the competition at Russsia 2018. Portugal win 1-0 thanks to CR7’s early header.
95th minute: Bruno Fernandes, inexplicably, takes a shot instead of keeping the ball. But time has run out for Morocco.
92nd minute: CHANCE BENATIA! Oh dear, how many times have they gone close? The ball falls to Benatia in the box after a freekick by Ziyach is not cleared. His shot is over the goal. Corner for Portugal at the other end but Morocco break forward. Last chance saloon.
91st minute: Forgive us for a minute, we are just laughing at Pepe who fell down on the floor like he was shot by a sniper when Benatia tapped him on his back.
90th minute: CHANCE ZIYACH! Oh so close yet again. Ziyach with a lovely run into the box from the left side, dancing past defenders and gets a shot away but it’s blocked by Fonte. Nothing comes off the corner.
88th minute: Portugal readying their final substitution, Moutinho will go off for Adrien Silva. Game slowed down to a snail’s pace now in the past few minutes. Good game management this by Portugal.
84th minute: FREE KICK FOR CR7 from just outside the box after Benatia is pick-pocketed, and fouls Ronaldo. Hits the wall and off the rebound, goes down theatrically inside the box and calls for a review.
81st minute: Second corner for Morocco in the space of few minutes – first one scrambled clear by Portugal (inadvertent handball by Pepe) second one results in a long shot from Dirar that goes high over the goal. Into the final 10 minutes now and Morocco’s World Cup journey could be about to end.
78th minute: CHANCE, BENATIA! Another lovely Ziyach delivery, Benatia gets ahead of Moutinho at the near post, but cannot turn his header around on target ala Harry Kane.
74th minute: After that initial flurry from Morocco in the second half, Portugal seem to have taken the sting out of the Atlas Lions’ attack. They are still creating half-chances but desperately need a goal now. Amrabat has moved into a second-striker role now.
After 70 minutes, Portugal 1-0 Morocco
BRUNO FERNANDES REPLACES JOAO MÁRIO (PORTUGAL)
EL KAABI REPLACES BOUTAIB (MOROCCO)
After 67 minutes, Portugal 1-0 Morocco
Mexican wave time! Morocco have a free kick from a great position in the left.... Ziyach gets it over the ball but couldn’t bring down. Goes over the crossbar.
61st minute: Benatia this time, shoots from inside the box but goes over the bar. The equaliser seems imminent (but it has been all evening and hasn’t come yet)
58th minute: Portugal change. GELSON MARTINS REPLACES BERNARDO SILVA
56th minute: WHAT A SAVE, RUI PATRICIO! Save of the tournament? We think so. Ziyach with a lovely freekick, Belhanda rises high and diverts the ball towards goal – surely going in? No sir! Patricio dives to his left and palms the bouncing ball away. Stunning reflexes.
55th minute: CHANCE MOROCCO! Once again, it’s all down the right flank where Amrabat and Dirar (the right back) have combined beautifully all game. Amrabat sets up Belhanda, who’s curler is caught well by Rui Patricio.
51st minute: CHANCE PORTUGAL! Ronaldo is fouled in the middle of the park, and while he’s appealing, his teammates take a quick free kick which results in Guedes completely mishitting an attempted shot at goal, but it turns out to be the perfect layup for an onrushing Ronaldo - who fires it high and over the goal. Should have hit the target there, went for too much power. (Yes, he can miss too)
48th minute: Early corner for Portugal (just like in the first half) after Ronaldo and Guedes combine well. Fonte fouls the Moroccan defender from the corner. Free kick Morocco.
06:28 pm: This tells you the story of the first half. Morocco are behind only because of one man - CR7. They have actually played some lovely football. Can they translate that to goals in the second half? Let’s find out.
HALF-TIME STATS: Morocco have had 8 shots but Portugal have got 2 of their 5 shots on target and have had the better chances arguably. Both sides passing the ball with less than 70% accuracy. \
(Courtesy: Fifa World Cup / Twitter)
HALF-TIME: Portugal take a 1-0 lead thanks to Ronaldo’s early header but Morocco have shown this match is not done, not by a long shot.
Stoppage time: CHANCE MOROCCO! OH, SO CLOSE. Free kick Morocco from close to the right corner flag after a silly foul by Raphael. Ziyach with a lovely delivery, met by Belhanda’s glancing header, which just evades Benatia at the far post.
45th min: A break in play as Belhanda gets some treatment. Three minutes of added time.
Interesting analogy this...
40th min: Yellow card for Mehdi Benatia for persistent fouling. He’ll be walking a tightrope now, keep an eye on that.
39th minute: CHANCE PORTUGAL! Ronaldo with a delightful lobbed through ball to Guedes (who has been awfully quiet in this game), the forward toe-pokes the ball on target, but the Moroccan keeper gets his hand out and palms it away.
37th minute: Sustained spell of possession from Morocco once again, this time down the left, but the end product is missing. They have certainly played well.
32nd minute: And CR7 hits the wall, like he most often does from freekicks (that goal against Spain was a statistical outlier). Portugal now have a corner.
31st minute: Oh, well. Portugal counterattack and Morocco concede a foul just outside the box, centrally. And it’s CR7 time!
After 28 minutes, Portugal 1-0 Morocco
Some drama in the past few minutes after Amrabat was brought down seemingly inside the box by Raphael, coach Renard is furious it wasn’t called a penalty and is given a talking to by the ref. As for the decision itself, it was a case of both players going at each other and the foul happened outside the box. So no VAR needed.
25th minute: Oh, that’s a nasty looking challenge on Ronaldo from behind by Benatia... the stud showed on Ronaldo’s ankle. CR7 rolls around in pain.
After 22 minutes, Portugal 1-0 Morocco
Remember this is a must-win game for the Moroccans, defeat today will all but end their hopes of progressing from the group.
20th minute: More good football from Morocco, threatening down the right flank. Amrabat and Ziyach combining well to win a corner. Ziyach’s delivery is good, but Portugal manage to clear. It’s been all Morocco since the Ronaldo goal.
18th minute: CHANCE! Boutaib with some good center-forward hold-up play, sets up Ziyach to have a go but his shot is blocked. Morocco keep coming.
05:45 pm: All that is left is the Hand of God, eh? *wink*
13th minute: Another corner for Morocco. Ziaych with good work down the left flank this time. Belhanda’s delivery not great this time.
11th minute: SAVE! Morocco on the attack, and after good work from Amrabat down the right flank, win a corner. The delivery is great, the header from Benatia is on target, headed downwards, but Rui Patricio goes down well to save. Good response from Morocco.
9th minute: CHANCE! Ronaldo makes himself a few yards of space to get a shot away from the right side of the D box, but the balance isn’t there, neither the power and it goes wide.
MILESTONE GOAL FOR RONALDO: The Portugal captain goes past Ferenc Puskas as the most prolific goalscorer in European history. That’s goal no. 85 for CR7. It was a well-taken corner by Moutinho and Ronaldo powers home a header from 3 yards out. All too easy for the great man. Four goals at Russia 2018 now!
5th min: GOALLLLLLL, RONALDOOOOOO! WHAT A PLAYER.
4th min: Corner for Portugal... Raphael with a sweet volley that is deflected, results in another corner.
1st min: Morocco have started the match in 5th gear! Attacking from either flank, the initial spell of possession ends with Boutaib’s header going wide.
05:29 pm: We are all set for kick-off!
05:25 pm: Teams are out in the middle... time for national anthems. Portugal are in all-whites today.
05:20 pm: Here’s a reminder of how Group B stands...
05:15: The first round of fixtures came to an end yesterday at the World Cup. What did we learn about the favourites? What were the takeaways? Read Arka Bhattacharya’s round-up...
05:10 pm: “The most important thing for our team is for Cristiano Ronaldo to be well,” Pepe said after the Spain game. “He’s very happy to be here with us and every match it’s a privilege for us Portuguese to have a player such as him.”
Ronaldo’s hat-trick was the 51st of his career, many of which were scored alongside former Real centre-back Pepe who spent a decade at the Spanish giants.
“To me it’s nothing new about Cristiano Ronaldo,” the 35-year-old said. “I mean he had a fantastic match and it was very important the fact that he’s so humble on the pitch and working to help the team. We are very happy with him and his performance and the performance of all the other players. We work with a single goal which is to honour our country and jersey.”
05:06 pm: This is a wonderful story....
05:00 pm: These two teams met in the World Cup once before... and it was a historic match when Morocco defeated Portugal 3-1 in 1986 and became the first African team to progress past the first round in World Cup history.
04:47 pm: The race for the golden boot is on... and the all the stars are chasing the prolific superstar, Mr. Own Goal.
04:38 pm: Ronaldo, a picture of focus and concentration.
04:35 pm: “Even after the defeat, the atmosphere was terrific,” coach Renard said. “We’ve been waiting for this moment for 20 years, all Moroccans have been waiting for this for 20 years. We’re one big family.”
Can the Moroccans pull off something massive in Moscow?
04:30 pm: It will be just the second meeting between the two countries, after Morocco beat Portugal 3-1 in the group stage at the 1986 finals.
Morocco did not concede a single goal in the final qualifying round as they sealed a return to the World Cup for the first time in 20 years, but their knockout hopes hang by a thread after a 95th-minute own goal by Aziz Bouhaddouz against Iran.
Herve Renard’s men face a monumental challenge, with games to come against Portugal and Spain, but midfielder Faycal Fajr is adamant all is not lost for the Atlas Lions.
“If I said that we don’t believe we can qualify it would be a lie,” said Fajr, one of 17 players born abroad in Morocco’s 23-man squad.
“I could throw out some examples, like the Argentina draw (1-1 with Iceland). Where there’s a will there’s a way. (The Portuguese) have two feet, two legs and they are humans like us.”
04:20 pm: Alright, the lineups are in the match.
(Graphic courtesy: @FIFAWorldCup / Twitter)
04:15 pm: The venue for the match is the Luzhniki Stadium... where Mexico stunned Germany. Can Morocco cause an even bigger upset?
04:12 pm: Let’s get some “disappointing” news out of the way, first. The coolest story of the World Cup thus far, turns out to be fake news. Read below.
04:10 pm: Ronaldo will attempt to follow up his World Cup opening game heroics for Portugal against a Morocco side licking their wounds after a crushing last-gasp defeat. A hat-trick from the five-time world player of the year snatched a thrilling 3-3 draw for the European champions against Spain in a heavyweight Group B showdown in Sochi.
It was Ronaldo’s 51st career hat-trick, and the 51st in the tournament’s history, as the Real Madrid star became just the fourth player to score in four World Cups.
“I am very happy, it’s a nice personal record to have, one more in my career,” said Ronaldo.
“For me the most important thing is to emphasise what the team did against one of the favourites to win this World Cup.”
04:05 pm: A look at the today’s triple-header.
04:00 pm: Hello all and welcome to The Field’s live blog of the Group B fixture between Portugal and Morocco. It’s Cristiano Ronaldo time again! After his heroics against Spain in the opener, the Portugal captain goes up against Morocco, who conceded a heart-breaking own goal deep into stoppage time against Iran to lose their first match. Can CR7 and co get their first win? Let’s find out.