Portugal have all but qualified for the knockout stages of the World Cup after beating Morocco 1-0 in Moscow on Wednesday, courtesy of Real Madrid star Ronaldo’s fantastic performance and Wolves new signing Rui Patricio’s crucial saves.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s thumping header, his 4th goal of the campaign so far, saw him become the leading European goalscorer in international football with 85 goals. The win saw Portugal cement their place at the top of Group B, knocking out Morocco from the World Cup.
Fernando Santos’ team are one point above Iran, who lost to Spain 1-0. Morocco will be pleased with their effort and spirit despite going behind just four minutes through Ronaldo’s header.
The African nation pushed for an equaliser in the second half but could not find a way past Rui Patricio, who made one exceptional save from Younes Belhanda’s header.
Portugal had a good chance late on to double their advantage when Ronaldo was tripped just outside the box by Medhi Benatia but the Real Madrid superstar sent his free-kick crashing into the wall.
Morocco had a glorious chance to equalise in the stoppage time, only for Benatia to fire over the bar.
Portugal player ratings
Rui Patricio – 7/10
Rui Patricio wasn’t tested much in the first half but was called into action after the break. The 30-year-old made a comfortable save early in the second half before making an athletic stop off Belhanda’s header.
Cedric Soares – 5/10
Soares endured a tough time throughout the first-half against the likes of Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech. The Southampton full-back enjoyed very little going forward but was defensively shambolic, to say the least.
Pepe – 5/10
Pepe had a quiet first half as he hardly had anything to deal with. However, he struggled after the break, especially from set-pieces. But the ageing Portuguese made an important block to deny Hakim Ziyech in injury time.
Jose Fonte – 5/10
Despite being reckless and sloppy, Fonte was miles better than what he was against Spain. He made some good clearances and tackles but royally struggled from set-pieces alongside his central defensive partner Pepe.
Raphael Guerreiro – 4/10
Guerreiro had a torrid time all afternoon against Nordin Amrabat as he struggled to match the Moroccan’s pace and athleticism. Time and again, Amrabat skinned Guerreiro and the left-back had no answer whatsoever. A forgettable day for the Portuguese defender.
William Carvalho – 4/10
William failed to influence the game with his passing abilities as he was beaten a number of times due to a lack of pace. The Moroccan players exploited William’s sluggishness and lack of agility, and that never allowed the Portuguese to control the game.
Joao Moutinho – 5/10
Moutinho’s fantastic delivery from the right-wing was met by Ronaldo for the game’s only goal. He enjoyed the luxury to move around in the middle of the park without any pressure but was let down by the rest of his teammates.
Bernardo Silva – 4/10
Bernardo Silva worked tirelessly to make things happen for his nation but to no avail. He lost possession a number of times and cut a frustrated figure before getting substituted in the second half after a poor display.
Joao Mario – 4/10
Mario failed to add impetus to Portugal’s attack despite making some clever runs. He hardly touched the ball and was taken off after the break. Disappointing!
Goncalo Guedes – 4/10
Guedes struggled to impose himself on the game as Benatia and co. dealt with him quite comfortably. The attacker will be lucky to keep his place in the starting eleven for their final group game against Iran.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 8/10
Another game, another goal! Ronaldo powered a bullet header in the 4th minute to give Portugal the lead. Scuffed an effort wide soon and was a constant menace for the Moroccan defence. Undoubtedly, he was Portugal’s best player and it is difficult to explain where this team will be without his presence.
Gelson Martins – 3/10
Martins was sent on to add pace and freshness to Portugal’s attack but he failed, losing possession on countless occasions.
Bruno Fernandes – 3/10
Bruno replaced Mario but didn’t do anything of note other than blazing a shot into the stands.
Adrien Silva – N/A
Silva came on in the 89th minute and picked up a booking within moments after replacing Moutinho.