Carlos Queiroz hails Iran’s opening World Cup win over Morocco as ‘beautiful’

Morocco's Aziz Bouhaddouz 20 scores an own goal during the group B match between Morocco and Iran at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg Russia Friday

The victory puts Iran top of Group B, at least until after Friday's late match between group heavyweights Spain and Portugal, while Morocco saw their chances of advancing to the next round sharply diminished. Medhi Benatia & Co. will be up for a task against Iran.

After a 20-year absence from the World Cup, Friday's game against the Iranians marks Morocco's return to the global showpiece.

Morocco dominated possession through the game and created a number of scoring chances, although many of them finished with shots off target.

Carlos Queiroz has so far masterminded his way through qualification and Iran got a place in Russian Federation through sheer hard work and determination.

He said he had been telling the players that they need to play with a sense of loyalty to the fans, with respect for their opponents and with humble attitude knowing that they have limitations.

"We started very carefully and I'm sure they studied the Iranian team, we knew they have a very strong and powerful start to the game - always with full speed and a great attacking spirit".

Iran have undergone something of a facelift in the last four years.

The first success came to Asians at the world Cup 1998 in France, when the team beat team USA.

Sardar Azmoun, a 23-year-old striker hailed as the "Iranian Messi", who plays for Russian club Rubin Kazan, already has 23 goals for his country, including an incredible 11-goal haul during the Asian qualifiers. They only conceded one goal in eight games in qualifying - in a second-round win over Equatorial Guinea.

Going forward, Morocco may want to involve him more in the game, as he has proved that he is more productive when the ball is passed to his feet.

Morocco have the quality and grit to win this one fair and transparent. And Iran made the most of it. Defending against Morocco is one thing, attacking against a defence that has not conceded a single goal during their qualifying campaign will pose a challenge on its own.

Wasteful finishing looked to have consigned this compelling contest at the Saint Petersburg Stadium to a goalless draw but Bouhaddouz's mistake in injury-time means Iran emerge as the early challengers to Spain and Portugal in Group B.

The Netherlands may have failed to qualify for the World Cup, but they will not be without representation.

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