Moscow: It took Cristiano Ronaldo less than five minutes to get his name on the scoresheet with a diving header and that proved to be the difference as Portugal won 1-0 against Morocco, at the Luzhniki Stadium here on Wednesday.
The Portuguese captain, with his fourth strike in two matches in 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, became the highest goal scorer in the history of European football, eclipsing the great Hungarian Ferenc Puskas, as he moved on to 85 goals.
The Real Madrid man is now second on the list of all-time highest scorers in international football behind Iran’s Ali Daei’s record of 109 goals form 149 games.
The win took Portugal to four points from two games and momentarily top of Group B as Iran and Spain face each other late on Wednesday evening.
Morocco can consider their challenge in the World Cup as good as over as they face another Iberian opponent in form of Spain in their final group game.
Former Manchester United star, who has been in sensational form coming into the second game of the World Cup, showed why is one of the greatest player in the world in a manner in which he gave his side an early lead.
After Morocco started with a little spell of possession inside first opening minutes, Portugal earned themselves a corner. Joao Moutinho delivered the resulting corner, and the skipper responded well to get ahead of his marker and put a low diving header beyond Moroccan custodian Monir.
Despite going a goal down inside first five minutes, Moroccan side responded well and exerted pressure back on their counterparts. Wingers Nordin Amrabat, who recovered from a concussion caused in the previous match against Iran, and Hakim Ziyach continued making runs behind the channel and kept crossing the balls in for forward Khalid Boutaib and caused problems for Portuguese back-line few problems.
In the first half itself, Morocco had a couple of appeals for a penalty, but the American referee Mark Geiger not ruled them all out but did not even take a VAR aid, enraging the Morocco camp, and their coach Herve Renard getting a word of caution from the referee.
Portugal sit deep
If one remembers correctly, Fernando Santos’ Portugal won most of the matches in Euro 2016 by a scoreline 1-0. In their second match of the World Cup. they adhered to the similar approach as the North African nation kept piling up the pressure and in the first 15 minutes of the second half created at least four goal scoring chances.
Younes Belhanda came closest to the scoring an equaliser when his header was saved by Rui Patricio to keep his side in the game.
The statistics of Morocco having 13 shots on goal compared to Portugal’s 8 showed that they needed a little bit of luck for the ball to go in, as they had 55 per cent of the possession as well.
As the game progressed, Ronaldo’s contribution in the game was bare minimum, but the 33-year-old player did all that was needed to keep the scoreline intact as he chased the loose balls and did his defensive duties, occasionally throwing his arms in the air when a decision went against his side, But in the end, Portugal managed to hold on, to take them closer to the knock-out stage.