Iran score late winner to beat Morocco at World Cup

Iran started its campaign at the World Cup in Russia with a late victory over Morocco.

They were gifted a 1-0 win over the Atlas Lions in Saint Petersburg when Moroccan striker Aziz Bouhaddouz headed into his own net five minutes into injury time on Friday.

The goal came after Bouhaddouz intervened to clear a cross from Iranian captain Ehsan Hajisafi, but only directed it past his own keeper.

Iran defended resolutely throughout the game, as the North Africans sought to find a way to score. Morocco did fashion a handful of chances but could not score.

“It was the worst thing that could have happened in injury time,” said the Morocco head coach, Hervé Renard. “We can only blame ourselves. We gave away a free-kick, then we scored against our own team.”

Renard admitted that his talented team should have taken advantage of an opening spell when they married skill and intensity with so many players looking to swarm forwards and create.

Meanwhile, Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said his team had been fighting against the odds.

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“We came here without good preparations,” he said, referring to an assortment of issues that have hampered them, from friendlies being called off to international trade sanctions leading to Nike cancelling a boot deal. “To make these difficulties a source of inspiration is something very special.

“It’s my duty to say ‘Let our boys play football.’ Let them enjoy football. They want to express themselves. This is 23 boys who just want to play football, and they showed today that they deserve to be respected like any other players.”

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