Two long shots face off as Iran takes on Morocco in St. Petersburg. Spain and Portugal loom large over Group B, and if one of these teams is to advance, it really must win today. • Refresh here for live updates and analysis from Russia. Here's the 2018 ...
57’: Sloppy Play Continues
We’ve commented on the physical nature of the play, but honestly it’s also just sloppy: missed passes, offensive confusion, turnover followed by turnover the other way. Hard to get much flow going.
53’: Iran Not Close to Scoring
A microcosm of Iran’s offense. The team managed to get into Moroccan territory, then Majid Hosseini launched it from 45 yards out and it sailed miles wide.
46’: Somebody Needs to Score
As the second half got under way, neither team would be too delighted with a draw; 3 points in this game seems vital to get out of a group with Spain and Portugal. Perhaps we will see more chances this half.
Halftime: Rough Play With No Score
No score in this game, but plenty of tough tackles and gritty play. Morocco will be the more disappointed side, while Iran will be grateful to be hanging on for the draw so far.
44’: Iran Almost Sneaks One In
This is why weaker teams counterattack. Iran nearly took an improbable lead when Sardar Azmoun got behind the defense on a counter and went in on goal. But a leg save by Mohamedi Munir of Morocco saved the day.
36’: Iran Goes for Long Shot
Iran’s star man Jahanbakhsh lined up a free kick from far, far out and decided to go for goal. His shot went far, far over the net. A goal by Iran at this point would be quite a shock based on the play so far.
35’: Yellow for Morocco
The ref, Mr. Cakir of Turkey, finally saw enough and gave Karim El Ahmadi of Morocco a yellow card. He could have given out several more in this physical game.
33’: Much Ado About Nothing
Iran lobbed the ball into the Moroccan box, it bounced around a bit, and then both teams essentially stopped playing and began to frantically signal the referee: Iran wanted a penalty and Morocco an offisde call. No call was forthcoming and play continued.
32’: Amine Harit Takes the Shot
Amine Harit of Morocco latched on to a pass by Achraf Hakimi, beat two defenders in the box and got off a well-positioned shot. But it went straight to the keeper.
28’: Morocco Continues to Play Agressor
A couple more shots by Morocco were blocked by tenacious Iranian defenders. Still, Morocco has to feel much better about how things are going.
19’: Another Chance for Morocco but No Goal
Another chippy tackle leads to a Morocco free kick. The ball was lobbed into the box and bounced around terrifyingly for several moments before it was finally cleared. A shot by Medhi Benatia saved by a diving keeper was the closest thing to a goal.
11’: Iran Pays for Physical Play
A deserved yellow for a tackle from behind from Masoud Shojaei of Iran, whose defense has been hard-nosed to say the least.
9’: Morocco Keeps Pressing, and Missing
Ayoub El Kaabi got off Morocco’s latest shot, but it curled wide left. A one-sided match thus far.
Major brands typically pay millions of dollars to outfit national soccer teams. But international sanctions and pressure on Iran have forced its World Cup squad to take a do-it-yourself approach to its uniforms.
By NILO TABRIZY on Publish Date June 13, 2018. Photo by Lee Jin-Man/Associated Press.. ORG XMIT: XFP125. Watch in Times Video »
7’: Iran Gets Physical
Amine Harit of Morocco went on a mazy run in which three separate Iran players kicked him, slid into him or stomped him. The ref gave Iran a talking-to, but no cards.
4’: Morocco Misses Early Chance
Morocco bungled the opening chance. Ziyech charged in from the half moon unmarked to get a tasty cross. And he straight-up whiffed on it. Still, Morocco has had the best of the play so far.
2’: Players to Watch
You may not know too many of the players on these teams, so here are two to watch. The mercurial midfielder Hakim Ziyech, No. 7, leads Morocco; he quit the team a while back over playing time, only to reconsider. For Iran, No. 18 Alireza Jahanbakhsh was the top scorer in Holland this past season.
Kickoff: Morocco in Red, Iran in White
It’s 500-1 vs. 1000-1 in St. Petersburg. For Morocco, in red, it’s a first World Cup since 1998. Iran, in white, was in the big show four years ago but managed just one draw.
Morocco Starting Lineup
12. EL KAJOUI
8. EL AHMADI
9. EL KAABI
16. N. AMRABAT
Iran Starting Lineup
1. A. BEIRANVAND
3. HAJI SAFI
4. R. CHESHMI
8. M. POURALIGANJI
11. V. AMIRI
18. A. JAHANBAKHSH
Iran vs. Morocco Top Story Lines
• Two of the tournament’s minnows square off. In all likelihood it will be Spain and Portugal going through from this group, but who knows? Four years ago, both Spain and Portugal were eliminated at the group stage.
• Morocco looked sharp in African qualifying, scoring 11 goals and conceding none in the final phase. Likewise, Iran dominated qualifying in Asia, scoring 10 and surrendering 2. But the competition gets a lot fiercer here.
Iran forward Reza Ghoochannejad Credit Christophe Simon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images• Both teams have players employed all around the world: Morocco’s 23-man squad plays in 10 countries, including Turkey and the UAE, and Iran’s team plays in nine, including Qatar and Sweden.
• Midfielder Hakin Ziyech of the Dutch team Ajax should be in the middle of everything for Morocco.
• Forward Sardar Azmoun of Iran will feel at home; he is a star in the Russian League. He may be set for a move soon to one of the continent’s elite clubs. Inevitably, he is known as the Iranian Messi.
• Iran midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi, 21, is serving a one-game ban and will miss this game.
World Cup 2018 (Soccer)