Portugal defeated a fighting Morocco 1-0 after an early Cristiano Ronaldo goal. The result sees Morocco knocked out of the World Cup.
Portugal started brightly and after Ronaldo headed home from a corner in the fourth minute. It was his 85th international goal, meaning he has scored more goals than any European player in history for a national team.
Things looked ominous for Morocco after conceding early, but they responded well and were the better side for the majority of the match. They simply lacked the quality in the final third to score.
Portugal's performance was below par and moving forward they will need to improve in order to progress, but these three points give them a great platform to move forward.
Five takeaways from Portugal vs Morocco
Morocco may have lost this game and may now be out of the World Cup, but there will be many who don't believe they deserved this result — they performed well in both their games but simply could not put the ball in the net. For a majority of the game they outplayed Portugal and created far more chances, they were simply hurt by a lack of quality. Morocco have one final game against Spain in the group stage and, although they are out, don't think that they will roll over, as they may well fancy a shock result even if just to show the rest of the world what they can do.
Portugal rely on Ronaldo... again
If Portugal didn't have Cristiano Ronaldo, the chances are that they wouldn't have won this game. Ronaldo provided the one moment of true quality when he scored early on, and other than that moment, Portugal didn't really hurt Morocco. The Portuguese couldn't get Ronaldo onto the ball enough and without him driving them forward, they looked average at best. This game highlighted their reliance on their talisman and will show other teams that if you stop Ronaldo, you stop Portugal.
Poor performance from Portugal
Portugal's reliance on Ronaldo showed how poor the rest of the team was — there was a lack of drive and the Portuguese simply couldn't handle Moroccan pressing at times. Portugal definitely did not look like a team capable of going on and winning a World Cup and, moving forward, it looks as if they will need a big improvement to progress further in this tournament.
Understanding of VAR
Not for the first time in this World Cup, and not surprisingly, perhaps, the players and their coaches did not agree with the referee very often. One trend that seems to have appeared is the players or managers making the VAR "box symbol" at the referee, asking him to check VAR and reverse his decision. The players seem to believe that the referee has to ask for VAR to check an incident, when, in fact, VAR constantly monitors the game and alerts the referee if there is something he should check. Whether players are unaware of this, or whether they are aware and this is simply their way of telling the referee he is wrong, is unclear but it looks like we may be seeing the VAR symbol a lot more often.
Pepe's play acting
Portugal's Pepe has a bit of a reputation among football fans for going down too easily, so when fans hear it may have happened again, they won't be overly surprised. However, his episode today was, frankly, a bit embarrassing. Following a corner, Mehdi Benatia patted Pepe on the shoulder with possibly more force than was necessary, and immediately, Pepe fell to the ground and screamed out. It was laughable and was made worse by the fact that he immediately jumped back up and tried to confront Benatia. Considering this is the pinnacle of football and there are plenty of children around the world who will see this and think it acceptable, it really is something that shouldn't be repeated.