Morocco vs Portugal Match Analysis and Player Ratings

Morocco vs Portugal Match Analysis and Player Ratings
Cristiano Ronaldo
Image from the Telegraph
Portugal escaped their second game against Morocco with a 1-0 win despite being second best for the majority of the game. Ronaldo's header was the difference for the European Champions as he became the highest international goalscorer in Europe. Portugal now have four points which sets them up for a standoff between Iran in matchday three who also need a win to qualify. As for Morocco, they've been dumped out of the World Cup with back-to-back defeats to Iran and now Portugal and will play their final game against Spain, hoping to earn their country some dignity by gaining something from the match. 

Portugal lineup up in a similar formation with Rui Patricio between the sticks who was infront of the same back four who faced Spain with Pepe and Jose Fonte flanked by Cedric Soares and Raphael Guerreiro. Bruno Fernandes was replaced by Joao Mario but William Carvalho and Joao Moutinho kept their place in the lineup. Up front Bernardo Silva and Goncalo Guedes flanked goal machine, Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal were hoping to claim their first win of the tournament whilst Morocco needed anything from the game or they would be out of the World Cup. 

Morocco started on the front foot with Nordi Amrabat racing down the touchline and able to deliver a good cross and despite clearing it, Portugal were pinned back again and almost conceded within two minutes when Khalid Boutaib narrowly missed the net with a powerful header. Portugal finally got some possession and used it well with Bernardo Silva winning a corner which results in another after Guerreiro's shot deflected over. After Silva played the ball short to Moutinho, the Monaco playmaker whipped the ball into the box and guess who found the back of the net? Cristiano Ronaldo hammered the ball into the net with a fierce header and put Portugal ahead with his fourth goal at this World Cup. He almost doubled the Portugese lead roughly ten minutes in but CR7 scuffed his shot just outside the box and looked unhappy with himself. Morocco looked dangerous and could have scored the equaliser with Da Costa's header but Rui Patricio got down well to hold the ball. Morocco kept pressing for an equaliser and Amrabat, who may have missed the game with his head injury, has been ripping Guerreiro apart and created a lot of chances. In the first half an hour, Morocco had a couple of penalty appeals dismissed, with the second coming before Ronaldo was gifted another chance with a freekick just outside the box. The build up was tense enough but he failed to make anything with the chance as he smacked the ball against the wall. Morocco kept pressing but did not create any good chances with Portugal sitting deep and waiting to break on the counter. With five minutes to go, Portugal should have doubled their lead with a lovely lifted ball from Ronaldo into Goncalo Guedes, but the youngster half-volleyed the ball almost straight at Munir Mohamedi. Morocco almost levelled the game at the end of the first half after Guerreiro, who had been so poor against Amrabat, gave away a freekick after bundling over the Watford winger and from the resulting delivery, Medhi Benatia failed to make any contact from Belhanda's flick and the half ended with Morocco in the ascendency. 

Ronaldo 
Image from the Telegraph
The second half started with Portugal making more of an impact but with no final product after Bernardo Silva sliced a shot behind him somehow and then Ronaldo skied his shot over the bar. It was then Morocco's turn to attack and Belhanda had a couple of chances to score. The first from outside the box was straight at Patricio but the second forced an outstanding save from the Wolves 'keeper as Belhanda's header was powerful and accurate but the Galatasaray playmaker was denied again. Silva was replaced by Gelson Martins but the dominance was still in Morocco's favour and Benatia should have scored again but his header went over the bar. Morocco kept pressing for a goal and Portugal kept trying to get back into the game with another substitution with Fernandes subbed on for Joao Mario who, like Bernardo Silva, was absent for the majority of this game. With just over twelve minutes to go, Benatia missed another chance to score with another header and really should have scored twice but has been poor in front of goal. Portugal could have settled the game with another Ronaldo freekick but he hit the wall again and could not find a settling goal for his side. That was the last big chance of the match and Portugal clung onto the four minute winner from Cristiano Ronaldo's header. Amrabat looked like Neymar against Guerreiro and had the beating of him the whole game. Portugal won't care about how they won and will be glad they have won only their third game in their last nine World Cup tournament games (W3, D4 L2). 

Image result for benatia morocco
The skipper could not replicate Ronaldo's impact for Portugal
at the end of the first half
(Image from calciomercato)
PLAYER RATINGS: 
Rui Patricio (8) - A stunning save to deny Belhanda and a few other decent saves throughout the game. A super signing for Wolverhampton Wonderers and a big boost for Portugal. 

Cedric Soares (6) - Did not do much. Pressed into giving the ball away a few times but reasonably decent in defence.

Pepe (7) - Solid defensively but made a ridiculously overexaggerated a dive as he has done plenty of times before. 

Jose Fonté (7) - Decent as well. Although he has been playing in China for five months, he has been decent for Portugal. 

Raphael Guerreiro (4) - So poor against Amrabat, could not get anywhere near him. Has to improve if he wants to keep his place. 

William Carvalho (5) - Barely affected the game. He looked asleep for the majority of the game and the Moroccan midfield overwhelmed him. 

Joao Mario (5) - Ghosted through the game and barely made an impact. 

Joao Moutinho (6.5) - Decent cross for the winning goal. But did not do much past that, overwhelmed in the midfield.

Bernardo Silva (5) - Also ghosted through the game. Poor.

Goncalo Guedes (5) - Missed a good opportunity but looked livelier today. 

Cristiano Ronaldo (7.5) - Got the winning goal but squandered around four other chances to score, needs to be more clinical infront of goal if Portugal are to get through to the knockout rounds as he is carrying Portugal at the moment.

SUBS: 
Gelson Martins (n/a)
Bruno Fernandes (n/a)
Adrien Silva (n/a)
None of the subs had any effect on the game. 

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