Morocco Shock Spain, Pick Q’final Ticket  

Morocco pulled off one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history as they beat Spain on penalties to reach their first ever quarter-final.   

The result leaves the Atlas Lions as the only African representative left in the tournament and interestingly, it was the first nation on the continent to reach the knockout phase on the World Cup with the 1986 edition in Mexico but were eliminated by the then West Germany by a lone goal.  

But Tuesday against Spain, the team defended like warriors throughout the contest and had several chances to take the lead – with Hakim Ziyech and substitute Cheddira both missing great opportunities – while Pablo Sarabia also hit the post towards the end of extra time.   

But Morocco was clinical from 12 yards as they won 3-0 on penalties, with their goalkeeper Bono making two saves on a historic night.  

It was Hakimi that made himself a hero with a chipped winning penalty after the two teams played out a draw after 120 minutes and Spain failed to convert any of their three penalties – goalkeeper Yaccine Bounou saving two – leaving PSG’s Hakimi to win it with a nerveless ‘Panenka’ to spark jubilant scenes.  

The north African side’s fans had been making themselves heard all game but the atmosphere in the stands did not match the attractional battle on the pitch.  

Spain hogged the ball and Morocco sat back plugging the gaps, with very few clear-cut chances being created.  

Luis Enrique’s side came closest to breaking the deadlock courtesy of Dani Olmo, who struck an arrowed drive from the angle which Bounou pushed away and the goalkeeper also did brilliantly well to keep out Olmo’s dangerous free-kick late on.  

Morocco was playing on the counter and should have scored in the opening period but Nayef Aguerd sent his unmarked header over, while their only shot on target came via Noussair Mazraoui’s long-range drive which was gathered by Unai Simon.  

With the sides not being able to be separated, the game went into extra time and substitute Walid Cheddira had Morocco’s best chance, but scuffed his shot straight at Simon from eight yards out.  

Spain notched over 1,000 passes in the contest and almost won it in the 123rd minute, but Pablo Sarabia’s volley agonisingly flicked the outside of the far post.  Education City Stadium was filled mostly by Morocco fans, who went wild at the final whistle as their side reached the last eight for the first time, where they will face Portugal or Switzerland on Saturday

Related Articles