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Cristiano Ronaldo took just four minutes to score the goal that made him the top-scoring European in international football as Portugal beat Morocco 1-0 in Moscow to dump Herve Renard's men out of the World Cup.
One the tournament's star performers so far picked up where he left off after his hat-trick against Spain in Portugal's opening 3-3 Group B draw, heading Fernando Santos' men into an early lead with a goal that moved him to 85 international goals - one ahead of the legendary Ferenc Puskas in the all-time standings.
Morocco head coach Renard came into the game having seen his players denied a point after dominating much of their opening encounter against Iran and they were largely the better side here too, keeping Portugal on the back foot and quelling the threat of Ronaldo for long periods.
Renard was involved in discussions with officials over two rejected first-half penalty claims but his side created enough chances to score from open play had they been more accurate in front of goal.
Portugal once again relied upon Ronaldo to produce their best moments and the weaknesses evident throughout the rest of Santos' team belie their pre-tournament billing as one of the favourites.
Morocco will have the chance to restore some pride by claiming a result from their final Group B game against Spain and will then head home disappointed not to have had more to show for two good displays in Russia, while Portugal took a huge step towards the last 16.
Khalid Boutaib headed wide as Morocco began the match on the front foot but they were undone by the irrepressible Ronaldo before they could find their stride.
Morocco defender Manuel da Costa failed to track the Real Madrid star as Joao Moutinho swung in a corner and Ronaldo stooped to power a header over goalkeeper Munir Mohamedi and into the middle of the goal.
Their World Cup campaign hanging by a thread, Renard's side rallied and Medhi Benatia brought a good low save from Rui Patricio with a downward far-post header and he was soon tested again by Hakim Ziyech's raking drive from 20 yards.
Portugal was pinned back for long periods as Morocco attacked in waves without causing any major scares, and they might have extended their lead when Ronaldo played Goncalo Guedes into the box but Munir stood tall and made a one-handed save.
Ronaldo blazed over the crossbar when Bernardo Silva's mishit presented him with a clear shooting chance on the edge of the box early in the second half.
Patricio then made a stunning save to preserve Portugal's lead when Ziyech's free-kick was headed towards goal by Younes Belhanda, the goalkeeper diving to palm the ball away from danger after it bounced up at him awkwardly.
Ziyech whistled another set-piece just over the crossbar from 25 yards as the minutes ticked away and both Nordin Amrabat and Benatia fired over with better chances, but there was to be no last hurrah for Morocco as their hopes of making the knockout stage slipped out of reach.
Goals & Highlights!
GOAL! Ronaldo crashes in a header! What a start for Portugal!
National Anthem time! Let's Go!
It's all about Ronaldo. Can CR7 deliver yet again for Portugal?
Iran currently top Group B at the start of the day. Just imagine if they did come late tonight! Morocco is facing the prospect of elimination with a defeat today. The Atlas Lions need a big performance in Moscow!
Team News! We have team news! As expected, CR7 starts (That was a given really). New Wolves keeper Rui Patrício starts as number one. As for Morocco, Khalid Boutaïb leads the line instead of Ayoub El Kaabi. Whilst Ajax star Hakim Ziyech will be the Atlas Lion's main goal threat today.
Hello! Welcome to the Live Updates for Portugal Vs Morocco. Cristiano Ronaldo takes the stage again, after serving up the performance of the first round in scoring a hat-trick in a pulsating 3-3 draw with Spain. Can the Real Madrid star do the business again for his country? Portugal will face a Morocco side who narrowly lost against Iran in their opening game, a defeat for Herve Renard's will all but eliminate the North African team.
Portugal will be looking to pick up their first victory of the World Cup when they take on Morocco at the Luzhniki stadium on Wednesday afternoon. The 2016 European Champions served up arguably the best game of the group stages with their dramatic 3-3 draw with Spain and will be hoping that Cristiano Ronaldo can inspire them to victory against the north African side.
You can watch the stream of the match from the Moscow Live & Exclusive on beIN SPORTS CONNECT.
Portugal showed glimpses of real quality on the break against Spain in their opening group game and will be quietly confident that they have the class to break down Morocco. Cristiano Ronaldo rightly gained all the plaudits in the game for his hat-trick including a stunning last-gasp freekick equaliser.
Aside from Ronaldo, PSG attacker Goncalo Guedes looked a real threat on the break. The 21-year old is likely to start again for his country, and providing he can keep his composure in front of goal he could be a good shout to find the back of the net on Wednesday.
Portugal Predicted Team
Patricio; Soares, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro; Carvalho, Moutinho, Mario; B.Silva, Guedes; Ronaldo
How to watch Online- beIN SPORTS CONNECT
TV Channel- MAX HD3
Stadium- Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
As for Morocco, they are facing the grim prospect of being eliminated after just their second group game should result fail to go their way by the end of the day. The Atlas Lions know full well that they will now need to pull off two mammoth World Cup upsets against Portugal & Spain if they are to have any chance of making the round of 16.
After an injury-time own goal against Iran, Morocco will have to pick themselves up and rally in time for the game, and Herve Renard’s side can still draw some positives from the defeat.
Central defender Medhi Benatia looked impressive against Iran, and the experience of the Juventus man is going to be crucial if Morocco is to get their World Cup back on track. Further forward, Hakim Ziyech will be the biggest goal threat for the Atlas Lions, and the Ajax forward will be relishing facing the ageing centre-backs, Pepe & Jose Fonte.
Morocco Predicted Team
Munir; S.Amrabat, Benatia, Saiss, Achraf; El Ahmadi; Belhanda, Harit, Boussoufa, Ziyech; El Kaabi
It promises to be an interesting match as Portugal take on Morocco at the Luzhniki stadium. You can watch all the action Live & Exclusive on MAX HD3 & beIN SPORTS CONNECT.