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Iran hail second ever win on the big stage after late own goal

Morocco 0-1 Iran

By Adrian Rutherford

Iran's players celebrated with a double lap of honour after a 95th-minute own-goal handed them only their second ever World Cup win.

Morocco sub Aziz Bouhaddouz headed into his own net in the dying seconds of a dull Group B clash in St Petersburg.

It led to joyous celebrations among the passionate Iranian fans, whose noise and colour energised an otherwise ordinary spectacle.

Iran, managed by former Manchester United assistant boss Carlos Queiroz, had recorded their only previous win against the USA in 1998.

And as the final whistle sounded their players fell to their knees, overcome with emotion.

Morocco now face an early exit. They were good in spells early in the game and had the bulk of possession - but were wasteful in the final third.

And when Saman Ghoddos won a free-kick near the corner flag deep into injury-time, it gave Iran their chance.

Ehsan Haji Safi curled in the free-kick, and Bouhaddouz headed past his own goalkeeper.

Morocco started at a frantic pace and after 20 minutes a goalmouth scramble threw up chances for Hakim Ziyach, Yours Belhanda and Mehdi Benatia.

The North Africans lost their way in the second half with passes going astray and desperation growing. Their best chance came with 10 minutes to go, when Ziyech's low drive was pushed away by Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

Instead it was Bouhaddouz, a 77th-minute sub, who had the game's defining act.

Belfast Telegraph

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