Iran beats Morocco with 95th-minute own goal

Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz walks among his player during the official training of Iran on the eve of the group B match between Morocco and Iran at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg Russia Thursday

Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz walks among his player during the official training of Iran on the eve of the group B match between Morocco and Iran at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg Russia Thursday

Chances were at a premium after the break, with both sides keeping their shape well, but a sweetly-struck effort from Morocco's Hakim Ziyech brought out a fine save from Beiranvand.

But Iran took the victory, only their second in World Cup history after a 2-1 win over the United States at France 1998.

Reigning European champion Portugal will take on Spain, the victor of the 2010 World Cup, in the second Group B match of the day in Sochi later on Friday.

Morocco coach Herve Renard confirmed he will be without winger Nabil Derar, who is making a gradual recovery from a calf injury.

Neither team changed their approach in the second half, but Morocco lacked the jump they showed in the opening minutes and Iran were visibly more comfortable. The match starts at 23:00 on 15 June 2018.

That contrasted with the one of the main squares in Tehran, where a billboard portrays fans celebrating and holding aloft the World Cup, accompanied by the slogan "One nation, one heartbeat".

The King of Morocco, King Mohammed VI, has already instructed his country to try again and bid to host the 2030 event, while a strong World Cup showing in Russian Federation would help raise the profile of the team.

Iran pulled off one of the first shocking victories of the World Cup on Friday thanks to a disastrous header in stoppage time.

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Morocco in particular have been in excellent form, winning four and drawing one of the five games they've played since reaching the tournament. In football, a win is like medicine and we know that if we can win our opening match, we will be more motivated and more energetic for our next matches.

Renard will go into all three of his side's group stage games with the same approach.

"If the game against Morocco was the World Cup final for us, the game against Spain will be the Universe Cup final", Queiroz said.

The second half continued in same fashion as the first, although Iran looked more threatening.

The goal came so late that even the Portuguese seemed to have considered accepting a draw. Iran remains unbeaten in competitive games since the 2014 World Cup, when it only lost to Argentina because of a late victor from Lionel Messi.

82% of the total shots in this match (18 of 22) came in the first half.

The only surprise was Morocco were not ahead as Ziyach kicked the air from a well-worked corner, El Kaabi sliced wide and a penalty-box scramble saw shots from Younes Belhanda and Benatia blocked. Earlier today, Uruguay won the game by 1-0 against Egypt.

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