• Press review: World Cup-bound Morocco held 0-0 by Ukraine in friendly

    GENEVA (AP) Morocco could not turn its neat creative play into goals as it was held to a 0-0 draw against Ukraine in a World Cup warm-up friendly on Thursday.

    Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech was twice denied by saves from Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov, who pushed away a powerful rising shot in the 83rd minute and parried a first-half effort against the post. They were among the few clear chances for the Moroccans.

    Morocco wing-back Hamza Mendyl provided the cross for Ziyech’s first effort, and impressed at both ends. Mendyl also made a key tackle to deny Ukraine its clearest shooting chance in the second half, taking the ball off the toes of Brazil-born forward Marlos.

    Morocco is in World Cup Group B with Spain and Portugal, and kicks off against Iran on June 15, the second day of the tournament.

    Veteran midfielder M’bark Boussoufa linked most of Morocco’s best work in a compact midfield that allowed Younes Belhanda a free role.

    Coach Herve Renard tested a three-man central defense in the first half, while resting Achraf Hakimi from the starting lineup. The teenage Real Madrid full-back was given extra days off after being with his Champions League-winning club.

    Captain Mehdi Benatia took the right-sided role in a formation that lasted only until the Juventus player was substituted at halftime. Hakimi came on at right-back in a four-man defense that let him race forward in support of attacks.

    Morocco returns to Geneva on Monday to play Slovakia, completing its training camp in the Swiss Alps.

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