Portugal urged by Fernando Santos to hit ‘Euro 2016 levels’ against Morocco

Portugal urged by Fernando Santos to hit ‘Euro 2016 levels’ against Morocco

Just as it looked like Iran would cling on for an admirable goalless draw, Morocco substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz stuck the ball in his own net in the 95th minute to gift the most unlikely of victories.

After a goalless first half, Ahmed Fathi scored an own goal before Denis Cheryshev struck and Artem Dzyuba added a third.

A hat-trick from the five-time world player of the year snatched a thrilling 3-3 draw for the European champions against Spain in a heavyweight Group B showdown in Sochi.

Of all the high profile stars that took the field for their first 2018 World Cup soccer game, it was Ronaldo who lived up to the extreme hype.

Fernando Santos has no injury concerns heading into the game. His 85th career goal for Portugal moves him ahead of Hungary great Ferenc Puskas.

Spain and Portugal are tied for second in Group B with one point each, while Iran leads the group with three points after beating Morocco 1-0 last Friday.

Joao Mario, a key player in the team which won the European Championship two years ago, replaced Manuel Fernandes while Goncalo Guedes kept his place in attack, again being preferred to Andre Silva.

Coach Carlos Queiroz concedes Iran now face one of the biggest challenges in their World Cup history, but maintains they can "make the impossible possible".

Da Costa, born in France to Portuguese and Moroccan parents, played for Portugal at under-21 and under-23 level before choosing to represent the North Africans at senior level.

Despite lifting the trophy at Euro 2016, Portugal are not widely viewed as among the favourites in Russian Federation but can take a big step towards the last 16 with victory over Morocco in Moscow on Wednesday.

Amrabat was treated in a hospital and regarded as a doubtful starter for a game Morocco likely needs to win to have hopes of advancing.

"The most important thing for our team is for Cristiano Ronaldo to be well", Pepe told reporters at the Luzhniki Stadium on Tuesday. But they were made to work extremely hard by Morocco in the end.