By Izuchukwu Okosi
Portugal with a starting line up that contains seven players that defeated France to win the Euro 2016 defeated one of Africa’s representatives Morocco 1-0 on Wednesday and ensure that the Atlas Lions exit the 2018 World Cup.
Khalid Boutaib header that went out of target rounded off an early pressure mounted by the Moroccans within the first minute.
The plague of defending set pieces that has bedeviled African teams at the World Cup in Russia however struck again as Ronaldo headed the European champions ahead from a Joao Moutinho corner in the fourth minute.
The world’s best player of the year went close in the ninth minute but flashed his shot wide before Morocco regrouped with Moubarak Boussoufa’s header going wide much to the frustrations of all Moroccans and Mehdi Benatia’s header also saved by Rui Patricio few seconds later.
Goncalvo Guedes receiving a pass from Ronaldo forced an instinctive one hand save from Morocco’s goalkeeper Munir Mohamedi six minutes to half time.
Younis Belhanda’s header from a Hakim Ziyech freekick which went wide just before the break was the last goal attempt in the first 45 minutes.
Belhanda also tested Patricio from 25 yards within ten minutes into the second half followed by a header that saw a powerful save from the newly signed Wolverhampton Wanderers shot stopper.
Benatia’s header from a Hakim Ziyech freekick came off his arm and out of play towards the end of the match. It ended in a slim win for Portugal.