Cristiano Ronaldo's Goal Leads Portugal Past Morocco at 2018 World Cup

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2018

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Portugal grabbed their first win of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday, beating Morocco 1-0 in Group B.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring after just four minutes, powering home a free header inside the box.

The Portuguese drew 3-3 with Spain in their opening match, while Morocco lost 1-0 to Iran. La Roja and Iran will meet later on Wednesday.  

Here are the main takeaways from the match.

   

Ronaldo's Scorching Form Spells Trouble For Other World Cup Contenders

Portugal aren't nearly as deep or versatile as they were two years ago, when their overpowering midfield was a huge factor in their run to the UEFA Euro 2016 title.

For the second match in a row, a lacklustre showing from the rest of the team was completely overshadowed by Ronaldo's scoring prowess, as he bagged his fourth goal of the tournament. That puts him in pole position for the Golden Boot.

Fans and pundits were in awe:

When the 33-year-old is playing like this, he's nearly impossible to stop, and while it might not be enough to lead Portugal to the ultimate glory, it should scare future opponents.

There's not a defence in this world that can contain Ronaldo for 90 minutes when he's on his game. He's barely missed any chances through two matches, and that's an ill omen for the rest of the field.

   

Morocco Provide Blueprint on How to Beat Portugal

Portugal may have grabbed a much-needed first win of the tournament, but Morocco were arguably the more impressive side, and the Atlas Lions may have just provided the rest of the teams with a blueprint on how to beat the European champions.

The African side went after Portugal's full-backs early and often, and both Raphael Guerreiro and Cedric Soares couldn't deal with the relentless pressure. Their midfielders were unable to help out, and centre-backs Pepe and Jose Fonte lack the pace to provide support—they wisely stayed in the box and left Guerreiro and Soares on an island.

The former in particular had no answers:

A team with more efficient wingers or strikers than Morocco's will punish the many openings Portugal leave near the back line and will overload the wings early and often. Future opponents will be licking their lips when they watch the game film of this match.

        

Future Looks Bright for Talented Atlas Lions

Morocco may not have lived up to some of the hype they carried entering the tournament—they did not concede a goal in their final qualifying group, after all—but they can still walk away from their second match with their heads held high.

The Atlas Lions may not have earned a point or scored a goal yet, but they've made plenty of new fans with their exciting style:

It's worth remembering this team hadn't qualified for a World Cup since 1998; their lack of experience at this stage showed, and the 2018 World Cup should serve as a learning experience for the side.

With the likes of Achraf Hakimi, Sofyan Amrabat, Hakim Ziyech and Amine Harit all yet to hit their prime, the future looks bright for the Lions, who have one more chance to prove themselves against Spain.

   

What's Next?

Both teams will feature again on Monday, when Portugal take on Iran and Morocco face Spain.

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