Iran clinched a dramatic, injury time winner, courtesy to an unfortunate Aziz Bouhaddouz own goal. We look at the three stars that shined during this game.
The Egypt-Uruguay started today’s trend of late winners, and Iran promptly responded with their version as Morocco succumbed in the end, courtesy of an own goal from Aziz Bouhaddouz deep into injury time. Both sides tried to create chances for themselves, but not one shot could be put past either keeper, but Iran came out lucky with all three points.
If the game had to be defined, it would have to be called ultra-defensive considering the efforts of both teams at the back of the defence. Iran and Morocco both threatened each other’s goal several times, and there were some excellent chances on display, but neither could capitalise on them.
It was a good contest of football, as both teams tried to make their mark on the game. For us, it was a difficult task to choose the three best players to emerge from this game, as there were more than that number. But in the end we had to pick and here are the three stars of this game.
Alireza Beiranvand – Iran
He came close to featuring in our list of three players to watch before the game. His presence has been somewhat underrated for Iran as most of their focus has gone on to the attackers and the perceived difference makers for the Asians. While in the end none of them shined, it was their unsung hero at the other end who did.
Alizera Beiranvand, the 6ft-4′ goalkeeper, was a rock-solid presence in the goal of protecting it with total superiority. His height for some was a suspect feature, considering strikers could slip the ball from below him, but nothing of that sort happened.
He controlled his posts well and saved some crucial shots that were directed towards him. He showed his calibre and balance during a penalty box scramble during the first half, which presented Morocco with some essential changes. Beiranvand maintained his composure and made a stunning double save from resulting shots off that scramble.
Ramin Rezaeian – Iran
The post-match analysis did mention his name a few times but was quite limited. Ramin Rezaeian was a substantial presence at the back for Iran all throughout the game. This game, in particular, would, at the end of the day be considered somewhat lacklustre for its lack of goals, but did not fail in creating drama for the audience.
Rezaeian made some crucial interceptions at the back and ensured Iran did not concede to Morocco under any circumstances. Whatever he did at the end, from his positioning to timing his tackles on charging Morocco attackers, he executed it all to perfection.
He was by far Iran’s best defender, probably the game’s as well, considering Morocco defenders lost the plot in the end to concede that unfortunate goal. One thing is for sure; if Iran wishes to progress, they need to keep things tight as they did against Morocco and they would undoubtedly need Rezaeian at his best for the other, upcoming games.
We were torn between including Monir El Kajouri, Morocco’s goalkeeper, who was responsible for keeping his side in the game by a long way; and the other choice was winger Noureddine Amrabat. We chose the latter because he was a shining light on the field of Morocco.
While El Kajouri was busy protecting his goal posts, Amrabat was tormenting Iranian defence with his expert gameplay from the wing. Other Morocco attackers huffed and puffed along the threaded line to get a sniff at goal, but failed miserably, as a staunch Iranian defence held their ground. Amrabat was the only shining light for the Africans.
He had his moments on the field and took the mantle from more critical players. He delivered some expert crosses into the box, which unfortunately no Moroccan player was present at times to connect to. Taking on defenders ad continually looking to create chances for his team means he was Morocco’s most potent player on the pitch.