Morocco out of FIFA World Cup after 1-0 defeat to Portugal

09:57 AM | 21 Jun, 2018
Morocco out of FIFA World Cup after 1-0 defeat to Portugal
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MOSCOW - Morocco are out of contention for the World Cup in Russia after Portugal beat the north African side 1-0 in their Group B match on Wednesday, while Spain outclassed Iran with 1-0 win.

Cristiano Ronaldo gave the European champions the lead with a header in the fourth minute and Herve Renard's side could not respond, leaving them with no mathematical chance of reaching the knockout stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo followed up his opening game heroics at the World Cup with the only goal in a 1-0 win for Portugal against Morocco as the European champions edged closer to the last 16.

The Real Madrid star struck in the fourth minute in Moscow to surpass Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas as Europe's all-time leading scorer with 85 international goals.

Victory sent Portugal top of Group B on four points ahead of Spain's game against Iran in Kazan, as a second straight defeat for Morocco condemned the African nation to an early exit in their first World Cup appearance since 1998.

Morocco coach Herve Renard opted for a back four, with Manuel Da Costa and Nabil Dirar coming into the side, to provide added protection against the "absolutely exceptional" Ronaldo after his hat-trick against Spain but his plans were torn apart within minutes at the Luzhniki Stadium as Ronaldo wriggled free of the imposing Da Costa to bury an unstoppable header past a helpless Monir El Kajoui.

It was Ronaldo's fourth goal of the tournament, more than his combined tally at three previous finals, and left him trailing just Iran's Ali Daei (109) on the list of top international goalscorers.

The Real Madrid forward threatened a second soon after, swivelling on the edge of the area and scuffing just wide after a powerful run from left-back Raphael Guerreiro.

Mehdi Benatia forced a smart low save from Rui Patricio at a corner for Morocco before Hakim Ziyach skipped his way into the Portugal area, his goal-bound effort blocked by an outstretched leg.

In another match, Spain edged out a gallant Iran in an absorbing contest to ensure they will reach the World Cup knockout stage with a draw in their final group game.

The 2010 champions needed a fortuitous Diego Costa goal after half-time, having been frustrated in an opening period in which they had 81% of possession.