- Portugal claim first win at World Cup against Morocco
- Rui Patricio’s stunning save is the afternoon’s standout moment
- Modest shot-stopper: "I prefer to focus on the team"
By Raquel Branco, with Portugal
Portugal arrived in Russia fully aware that Group B rivals Morocco would not be an easy team to break down, the north Africans having gone through the final round of CAF qualifiers without conceding a single goal. In the game itself, it took Cristiano Ronaldo only four minutes to break the deadlock with a brave header. But much of the post-match praise was reserved for a spectacular save by Rui Patricio.
As Morocco pushed for an equaliser, the Portuguese goalkeeper responded with a picture-book save that looks set to enter the anthology of FIFA World Cup™ memorable moments. With 57 minutes on the clock, Patricio threw himself to his right to claw away Younes Belhanda’s header and secure Portugal all three points.
Just like Ronaldo, Patricio is an undisputed starter for A Seleção das Quinas and has played a key role in the team’s run of 16 tournament games without defeat, spanning Brazil 2014, UEFA EURO 2016, the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and Russia 2018. He was the author of another standout intervention in the final of EURO 2016 against hosts France, when he again laid the foundations for the team’s 1-0 victory with a stunning save from an Antoine Griezmann header.
“I don’t like to focus on individuals, I prefer to focus on the team,” Patricio reflected modestly after the game. “I want to highlight the performance of the team in achieving our only aim, which was to win. We achieved it and we’re very happy. What I’m doing is no different to what my team-mates are doing in order to win every game.
“This victory represents a step towards the team’s objective, which is qualification. We still have one game to come, against Iran, and we’re taking it one match at a time.”