Soccer isn’t fair. If it were, Morocco would have been rewarded on Friday for its players’ slick passing, clever runs, and 68 percent share of possession against Iran. Instead, they were punished with a 95th-minute own goal from Aziz Bouhaddouz and a 1–0 loss to open the World Cup.
Bouhaddouz, a forward, was back defending a late set piece when his attempted clearance went awry. There’s never a great moment to put the ball into your own net, but the timing of this unfortunate ricochet was flatulence-at-the-wedding-altar bad. Morocco didn’t get the chance to even think about a last-gasp equalizer.
Given that the other two teams in Group B are Spain and Portugal, nipping points from a sturdy yet simple Iran side was imperative for Morocco. Now, the Lions of Atlas need to get results against the Iberian powerhouses, two squads who, according to advanced soccer metrics, are not Iran. Cristiano Ronaldo won’t need any of Morocco’s kind help when it comes to scoring goals.
Iran, for its part, can celebrate a job well done. The game plan was to defend and pounce when good fortune presented itself, and the team now has three points to show for it. Soccer may not be fair, but when opposing defenders pop up to do your scoring for you, you’d be foolish to complain.