Morocco eliminates Spain on penalties in the round of 16 of the World Cup

Home » Morocco eliminates Spain on penalties in the round of 16 of the World Cup
Morocco eliminates Spain on penalties in the round of 16 of the World Cup

The match: 0-0 (3-0 on penalties)

Walid Regragui’s Morocco achieved a historic feat on Tuesday by qualifying for the quarter-finals of the World Cup. A first in the history of the Atlas Lions who eliminated Spain after a penalty shootout completely missed by La Roja (0-0, 3-0 on pens).

Moroccans could have had big regrets after the three big opportunities harvested by Walid Cheddira (see elsewhere) at the end of the game but they finally succeeded better in their shots on goal than the Spaniards. If Badr Benoun, third shooter, missed his attempt, Abdelhamid Sabiri, Hakim Ziyech and especially Achraf Hakimi – who managed a daring Panenka – allowed Morocco to join the next round. On the Spanish side, neither Pablo Sarabia, nor Carlos Soler, nor Sergio Busquets managed to deceive Yassine Bounou, the Moroccan goalkeeper, who stopped two out of three shots, the first failing on the post.

Dominant throughout the game (76.8% ball possession), Spain never knew how to be effective. Luis Enrique’s men had to wait until the 54th minute to target their first shot, a shot from Olmo deflected by Bounou. The Moroccans defended courageously and intelligently, trying to take advantage of Spain’s losses to launch counterattacks. They could have cracked at the end of extra time, but success was on their side even if they lost Nayef Aguerd to injury (85th) and their captain Romain Saïss, hit in the left thigh, finished on one leg. Canada scorer (2-1) and some Belgium (2-0) in the previous round, Morocco, which conceded only one goal in four matches, will face the winner of Portugal-Switzerland (this Tuesday, 8 p.m.) to try to integrate the last four.

The player: Cheddira, missed opportunities

Coming in the 82nd minute in place of Selim Amallah, Walid Cheddira had several chances to open the scoring for Morocco. First there was this pivot shot too soft to deceive Unai Simon (86th). He was then caught by Aymeric Laporte in the Spanish area when he had been perfectly launched by Sofyan Amrabat (94th) at the start of extra time. Found by Ounahi, he lost a new duel against Simon (104th) before being taken over by Rodri in the area when Amrabat had still ideally launched him (115th).

The fact: Sarabia, the failed entry

In the 118th minute, Luis Enrique made the bet to replace Nico Williams – who came on in the 76th minute in place of the mediocre Ferran Torres – to start Pablo Sarabia for the penalty shootout. During his half hour spent on the lawn, Williams had nevertheless shown desire and beautiful things with the ball at his feet. After finding the post at the very end of extra time following a cross from Pedri (120th + 3), the PSG striker presented himself as the first Spanish shooter during the penalty shootout and again hit the post.

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Morocco is the 4th African team to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup after Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010. (Opta)

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Morocco coach Walid Regragui has become the first ever African coach to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup. (Opt)

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