Morocco shocks Spain to reach first World Cup quarterfinals.
Achraf Hakimi scored the decisive penalty kick in a shootout after a 0-0 tie at Education City.
Hakimi scored a Panenka penalty as Spain lost 3-0 in a shootout. Morocco became the first Arab nation to reach the quarterfinals by reaching their first.
1. Incredible Morocco beats Spain
After beating Spain in Education City, Morocco will play in its first World Cup quarterfinal. The Atlas Lions may make history by beating Portugal or Switzerland in Saturday’s last-eight match.
Walid Regragui’s team had conceded just one goal — an own goal — in the competition, and their defensive organisation helped them beat Luis Enrique’s club. Morocco rarely threatened Spain, but their inability to score in normal and extra time forced penalties.
Yassine Bounou saved penalties from Sergio Busquets and Carlos Soler, while Pablo Sarabia struck the post, as Spain lost a penalty shootout without scoring. Spain has lost four of five World Cup penalty shootouts.
Morocco can now go deeper in this World Cup. They won’t be overshadowed in the following round and might face England or France in the semifinals. Morocco’s advancement assures the whole region has a team to support in the first Arab World Cup.
2. Spain’s goalless
Spain stands out at Qatar 2022. Only England (12) has scored more goals than Spain (10), but Luis Enrique’s team poses no threat to well-organized opponents.
The 2010 World Cup winners’ 7-0 win against Costa Rica distorted the picture because they never scored against Morocco. Enrique picked Marco Asensio over Alvaro Morata, but the Real Madrid forward posed little threat and only struck the side netting.
After an hour, Morata wasn’t any better. He made more penetrating runs than Asensio, but lacked finishing and awareness. Enrique was slow to insert Nico Williams and Ansu Fati.
The two strikers helped Spain get beyond Morocco’s well-organized defence when they came on. They lost because they lacked a decisive edge.
3. Fans push Morocco ahead
If Qatar 2022’s top fans determined the World Cup final, Argentina and Morocco would meet at Lusail Stadium. You’ve heard about the Argentine supporters — their numbers, songs, the manner they filled stadiums with blue and white. Morocco’s fans are very noisy and enthusiastic. This game inspired them.
Deep-rooted historical and geographical conflicts between Spain and Morocco added spice to the atmosphere, but it was Morocco’s fans who made the game so difficult for Spain. Education City’s Morocco assistance went beyond Walid Regragui’s team. As the last African squad, they carried the hopes of a continent, but in the first World Cup in the Middle East, Morocco’s participation as an Arab team matters.
Morocco coach Regragui stated his team realised they were representing more than their country because several Palestinian flags were among the Morocco flags.
“We want to raise the Moroccan flag,” he stated. “Arabs, Africans, etc. Please pray and support us. We’re adding Africans and Arabs to the Moroccans.” Morocco’s quarterfinal appearance is crucial for the World Cup and the region.
Player ratings (1-10).
Yassine Bounou 9, Achraf Hakimi 7, Nayef Aguerd 8; Romain Saiss 7, Noussair Mazraoui 7; Azzedine Ounahi 6, Sofyan Amrabat 6, Selim Amallah 6; Hakim Ziyech 7, Youssef En-Nesyri 6, Sofiane Boufal 7
Walid Cheddira 5, Abdelhamid Sabiri 7, Jawad El Yamiq 6, Badr Benoun 6
Unai Simon 7, Marcos Llorente 6, Rodri 8, Aymeric Laporte 7, Jordi Alba 6; Gavi, Sergio Busquets, Pedri 6; Ferran Torres, Marco Asensio, Dani Olmo 6.
Carlos Soler, Alvaro Morata, Nico Williams, Ansu Fati, Alejandro Balde, Pablo Sarabia.
Morocco’s goalkeeper nailed the penalty shootout. Sergio Busquets and Carlos Soler saved brilliantly.
Asensio was chosen to spearhead Spain’s assault over Alvaro Morata, but he should have done better.
Achraf Hakimi’s goal sent Morocco to the quarterfinals.
After the game, players and managers said: “We’re Morocco’s authors. Morocco had never reached the WC quarterfinals. What a day! Coworkers helped. Great team! The coach built team spirit. We felt we could win, and we did. Yesterday’s penalty shootout was unprepared. Not practising.”
Yassine Bounou: “We felt the support of our supporters in Morocco and around the world, which inspired us to perform. When you’re in the thick of it, you can’t truly comprehend what you’ve achieved. We need to stay focused, but over time, we may realise what we’ve done.”
Busquets, Sergio “We struggled. We tired them out and found gaps. We sometimes succeeded but lacked luck, the final ball, or the finish. [Penalties] are heads or tails. It’s hard when you miss the first three penalties.”
Luis Enrique: “Winners deserve praise. They played well and won the shootout. Children must learn to lose, whether they deserve it or not.”
“Football is a great sport, but a team can win without attacking. Morocco threatened a few times, but we controlled and created. We wanted more. We struggled. 11 shots, few on goal. Pablo Sarabia missed the game-winning shot. We struggled in penalty shootout. I love my team.”
Gavi is the youngest man to start a FIFA WC KO Stage match since Pelé in 1958. (17 years, 249 days).
This is the eighth 0-0 match at the 2022 World Cup, tied for the most at a single men’s tournament (2014, 2010, 2006 and 1982).
Spain eliminated on penalties for third consecutive major tournament.
– Spain has one goal. It’s tied for their fewest shots on target in a World Cup match since 1966. In the 2006 World Cup round of 16, they fell 3-1 against France.
More in Sports: https://buzzing.today/sports/
Photo Credits: https://www.gettyimages.com/