Mark Geiger led a PRO (Professional Referee Organization) refereeing crew in Wednesday's Portugal vs. Morocco match at the World Cup, the first on-field action for the five MLS-based officials at Russia 2018, and managed a tight, contentious match fairly well at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Difficult match, in that both teams wanted to foul a lot, both teams expected all the fouls to be called, and both teams wanted to have quick restarts after most every free kick. Not something normally seen at this level. #PORMAR— Jonathan Johnson (@AsstRef) June 20, 2018
Cristiano Ronaldo scored an early corner-kick header that stood up for a 1-0 win for Portugal, eliminating Morocco from any chance of advancement after two losses in their first two games, and there was no shortage of flashpoints for Geiger.
Cristiano Ronaldo's goal was enough to give Portugal the win over Morocco.— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 20, 2018
Check out the highlights in our 90' in 90" ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/BAEWy8v1So
The veteran MLS ref waved off Moroccan appeals for a first-half penalty kick when Raphael Guerreiro and Nordin Amrabat tangled and tussled over the ball at the edge of Portugal's 18-yard box, and later dismissed Ronaldo's cynical attempt to earn a PK at the other end as the Real Madrid superstar flopped to the turf under minimal contact in Morocco's box.
Penalty or nah? pic.twitter.com/MkgVikzvmG— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 20, 2018
CR7's teammate Pepe was even more ridiculous in his efforts to deceive the refs, hitting the deck theatrically after a mild pat on the back from Mehdi Benatia:
Pepe, Pepe, Pepe... 🙄 pic.twitter.com/aGMJGqQZgM— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 20, 2018
Geiger whistled a whopping 42 fouls in all, but produced only one yellow card to each side, and no ejections. His PRO assistant referees Joe Fletcher (Canada) and Frank Anderson (USA) were slightly less busy, flagging only one offside call on each team.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Geiger's performance: It appeared that his headset, part of the communication system to keep the refereeing crew in constant contact with one another, malfunctioned – and the problems continued even after he switched with the fourth official, Russian ref Sergey Karasev.