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Ronaldo strikes again as Portugal down Morocco


Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo (left) celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Morocco during their World Cup group B match in the Luzhniki Stadium, in Moscow on Wednesday. - AP/PTI
 MOSCOW, June 20: Cristiano Ronaldo followed up his opening game heroics at the World Cup with the only goal in a 1-0 win for Portugal against Morocco as the European champions edged closer to the last 16.

The Real Madrid star struck in the fourth minute in Moscow to surpass Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas as Europe’s all-time leading scorer with 85 international goals.

Victory sent Portugal top of Group B on four points ahead of Spain’s game against Iran in Kazan, as a second straight defeat for Morocco condemned the African nation to an early exit in their first World Cup appearance since 1998.

Morocco coach Herve Renard opted for a back four, with Manuel Da Costa and Nabil Dirar coming into the side, to provide added protection against the “absolutely exceptional” Ronaldo after his hat-trick against Spain.

But his plans were torn apart within minutes at the Luzhniki Stadium as Ronaldo wriggled free of the imposing Da Costa to bury an unstoppable header past a helpless Monir El Kajoui.

Moroccan penalty appeals

A crude lunge from Benatia on Ronaldo left the Portugal skipper writhing around in pain, while Morocco felt aggrieved when Nordin Amrabat was hauled down by Guerreiro as he muscled his way into the area.

Khalid Boutaib was flattened by Jose Fonte in an aerial challenge that again had the Moroccans up in arms, with Renard warned for gesturing for the video assistant referee. – AFP

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