This easily could’ve been a loss for Portugal. They were coming off a come-from-behind, 3-3 draw against Spain; and Morocco coming off a loss to Iran. You’d think, with Cristiano Ronaldo captaining Portugal, that it should be a slam dunk.
Out of the gate, it seemed Morocco were out to get a (very much needed) result. In the fourth minute, Ronaldo would dash Morocco’s hopes a bit with a beautiful diving header off a corner to put Portugal up 1-0.
ICYMI: Here's how Ronaldo scored to give Portugal their early first half lead against Morocco. #POR #MAR pic.twitter.com/ldTZQf8qko— The Athletic Soccer (@TheAthleticSCCR) June 20, 2018
While Morocco didn’t get a goal in the first half, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Portugal looked more like they were the ones trying to grind out a win. Morocco actually looked like the better team, and for long stretches they were. They created plenty of chances, but just lacked in the finishing department.
Portugal just looked off. Their defense was really their achilles heel today. I’ll just say it: They’re old and slow (especially the center-backs), and it showed with the way Morocco had their way with the left channel. Nordin Amrabat pretty much had a run of Portugal’s left wing and was torching his opponents.
While Morocco played very well and deserved a result out of this, they just couldn’t get that equalizing goal. This one would end with Portugal getting all three points and top of the group with Iran (who play Spain later today).
What is there to say about the Captain of Portugal? His beautiful diving header in the fourth minute was a thing of art. He started up top in a 4-4-2 alongside Gonçalo Guedes where he would have the freedom to do Cristiano Ronaldo things -- like float around the field and popping up where you’d least expect him too.
With his goal today:
All-time top-scoring Europeans in international football— RMadridBabe¹³ (@RMadridBabe) June 20, 2018
Cristiano Ronaldo (85)
Ferenc Puskás (84)
Sándor Kocsis (75)
Miroslav Klose (71)
He, like the rest of the team, really ground out this victory -- they were not the better side in this match even if the scoreline shows they were. I’m not sure if it was a Spain hangover or what, but the entire team looked sluggish. Later on in the match he would find himself as the loan striker in a 4-2-3-1 as they went a bit more defensive late to protect their one goal lead.
Player Rating: 7.5/10
The 19 year-old left-back keeps showing promise. I know he hasn’t done all that well with Real Madrid at times -- but he looked good against Portugal. He got up and down his side of the pitch and defended well and even got a shot on goal.
I mean I don’t have really anything bad to say about his performance. He’s looking solid and getting more confident as the matches continued on. This is a great part of his development and I hope his performances translate over to the club side. The kid is good and is only going to get better and he’s showing that at the world's biggest stage. Got to put on a good show for your new manager, ya know.