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Early matches get last-minute goals
Iran beats Morocco
Players of Iran celebrate with their coach Carlos Queiroz after the group B match between Morocco and Iran at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia. - photo by ASSCOCIATED PRESS

YEKATERINBURG, Russia — In a team that boasts one of the World Cup's most potent attacks, two defenders combined to give Uruguay a late 1-0 victory over Egypt on Friday.


Uruguay captain Diego Godin and teammate Jose Gimenez, who anchor the back line at Atletico Madrid as well as the national team's traditionally solid defense, did their job in front of their own goalkeeper and then combined for the winning strike in the 89th minute.


Godin, who was making his 117th international appearance, sent a free kick from the right into the area. Gimenez jumped and got his head to the ball, directing it into the net and giving Uruguay its first opening-match victory at the World Cup in 48 years.


"Sometimes the ball will go to the back of the net, sometimes it won't," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. "I'm very proud of the team and the attitude they played with throughout the match."


Uruguay now has three points in Group A, but still trails Russia on goal difference after the host nation's 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on Thursday.


Egypt forward Mohamed Salah was on the bench for his country's first World Cup match since 1990 after injuring his shoulder while playing for Liverpool in last month's Champions League final. Salah was the Premier League's player of the season after scoring a league-leading 32 goals, with 44 in all competitions.


He left the Champions League final in tears on May 26 after he was injured during a collision with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos.


"He didn't play today because we didn't want to have any risk or danger," Egypt coach Hector Cuper said. "But I think he will be OK for the next match."


Uruguay strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, the pair of players who make up that potent offense, missed their chances at the Yekaterinburg Arena. Suarez failed to beat Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed El Shennawy in two one-on-one situations and Cavani hit the post from a free kick two minutes from the end.


"We've tried to play in a very orderly fashion," Tabarez said. "I don't think some of the players played as well as they can."


Egypt, which had zero corner kicks in the match, has yet to win a World Cup game. It managed two draws at the 1990 tournament and lost its only match in 1934.


With its focus on defense, Egypt failed to capitalize on several mistakes from the Uruguay midfield.


"Mo Salah is an important player for us, that is without a doubt," Cuper said. "Perhaps if Mo had been on the pitch today the outcome could have been different, but we'll never know that."


Iran 1, Morocco 0

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Aziz Bouhaddouz, head in his hands and face buried in the turf, was probably unaware of the opposing players and coaches swarming all around him in jubilation.


Some teammates tried to console him, but it did little good.


In the second dramatic finish to a World Cup match on Friday, Iran was gifted a 1-0 win over Morocco in Group B because of Bouhaddouz's own-goal in the fifth minute of injury time.


Only on the field as a 77th-minute substitute, the Morocco striker dived to reach an in-swinging free kick from the left and glanced the ball past his own goalkeeper inside the near post.


"We were crucified," Morocco coach Herve Renard said.


It was Iran's second win in 13 matches at the World Cup, and Asia's first since the 2010 tournament in South Africa. Showing just how much it meant, Iran's players threw coach Carlos Queiroz into the air after the final whistle.


They hugged and danced, savoring the best moment of their careers. Back in Iran, locals poured into the streets in celebration.


Considering Spain and Portugal are the other teams in Group B, the match in St. Petersburg was regarded as a must-win game for the two outsiders. The result has already left Morocco struggling to stay alive in its first World Cup in 20 years.


Renard said his team "fell into the trap" set by Iran, which sat back and relied on the defensive strength that carried the team through Asian qualifying by conceding only two goals in 10 games. Morocco started well but then faded.


"Our plan from the first minute was to create a mental collapse in the Moroccan players," Queiroz said, "creating frustration and blocking all the playmakers who can create something."


So maybe it was mental exhaustion that led to Morocco conceding two fouls, one quickly after the other, in injury time. After the second, wide on the left, Ehsan Haji Safi whipped over a cross between the goalkeeper and the retreating defenders.


Bouhaddouz, covering the near post, dived full stretch. He couldn't believe where his header ended up.


There was an explosion of joy among the Iran squad as coaches and substitutes leapt out of the dugout and sprinted onto the field to celebrate with the players.


Suddenly, Iran's blighted and frustrating World Cup buildup — the scrapped friendly matches, the sportswear sanctions from the United States that prevented players from wearing their favorite soccer shoes — didn't matter anymore.


"The brilliant attitude, the commitment, the soul, the heart," Queiroz said. "We came here without World Cup preparations. We don't have camps, we have problems ... to (overcome) these difficulties is a source of inspiration, motivation, something special."


There was also a late goal in the first match of the day, with Uruguay scoring in the 89th minute to secure a 1-0 win over Egypt.