Morocco are in the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in history after Spain missed three penalties in a stunning shootout following a 120-minute stalemate.
Spain’s weaknesses in attack were exposed – they only had one shot on target in the match, the lowest in a World Cup match – when they were dumped out.
Morocco had the best chance in the first half when West Ham defender Nayef Aguerd headed home from close range. In extra time, following the second half, Moroccan substitute Walid Cheddira was denied one-on-one by Unai Simon before Spain’s Pablo Sarabia hit the post with a last-minute volley.
After both teams failed to break away, Sarabia again hit the post and fired first for Spain before Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets were saved by Bono, leaving Achraf Hakimi to slot home the winning penalty from the middle to put Morocco past.
Big moments in sports…
- 25 min: The Offside flag goes up after Moroccan midfielder Bono pushes Gavi’s shot over the crossbar and Torres is disallowed.
- 26 min: Asensio beats the Moroccan offside trap but fires into the side netting
- 43 min: Boufal’s cross from the left is headed for Aguerd with the best chance of the first half
- 114 min: Moroccan substitute Cheddira is denied by Unai Simon
- 120 + 3 min: Sarabia hits the post with a volley in the last chance of the game
What does the result mean?
Morocco they will now face either Portugal or Switzerland, who play this evening at 7pm, in the quarter-finals on Saturday December 10 at 3pm.
Morocco: Bono (8), Hakimi (8), Aguerd (7), Saiss (8), Mazraoui (7), Ounahi (7), Amrabat (8), Amallah (6), Ziyech (7), En-Nesyri (6) ) ), Boufal (7).
Subscribers: Ezzalzouli (6), Cheddira (6), Sabiri (7), Allah (6), Yamiq (6), Banoune (n/a).
Spain: Simon (7), Llorente (5), Rodri (7), Laporte (7), Jordi Alba (5), Gavi (5), Busquets (5), Gonzalez (6), Torres (5), Asensio (5) , Elm (5).
Subscribers: Morata (5), Soler (5), Williams (6), Fati (6), Balde (6), Sarabia (n/a)
Sportsman: Sofyan Amrabat
How Morocco surprised Spain
Luis Enrique’s team had 77 percent and made 926 accurate passes but were unable to break down a resilient Morocco. Spain worked hard with Gavi’s shot being pushed over the crossbar by Bono before Ferran Torres’ follow-up was blocked in the six-yard box, but the offside flag went up. Marco Asensio opened the scoring in the first half, putting the ball behind the Moroccan defense and firing it into the side netting.
- Morocco decided to strengthen their midfielders, bringing in Selim Amallah to replace Abdelhamid Sabiri.
- Marcos Llorente was named ahead of Dani Carvajal to replace the injured Cesar Azpilicueta at right back for Spain.
Morocco had already seen Hakimi whistle a free-kick wide before Simon gathered Noussair Mazraoui’s long-range effort at the second attempt. Their best chance, however, came when former Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal crossed for Aguerd, who sent in a free header.
The second half was more frustrating for Spain as Sofyan Amrabat, in the middle of the Morroco players, was very good, in addition to the play of the defenders Aguerd and Romain Saiss.
Cheddira almost got the better of them in extra time, denied by Simon’s right leg, though they were lucky when Sarabia leapt over and fired in the final shot.
They don’t have enough front, they are not aggressive and sick enough.
He also hit the woodwork moments later, clearing his penalty on the right as Abdelhamid Sabiri put Morocco ahead. Hakim Ziyech doubled their chances and Bono set them up for victory, saving from Soler.
But Badr Benoun was saved by Simon to keep Spain in it even though Bono gave it again, at the same time denying the captain Busquets before Hakimi won with Panenka.
Enrique: This is not a good time to talk about my future
On his future as Spain manager, Luis Enrique said: “I don’t know the decision, this is not the right time to talk about my future, this is not important, it is not important. My contract will end but as you know I am very happy for the national team and I have to think what is best for me and the national team.”
After the defeat in Morocco, Enrique told TVE: “We won the game, it’s a shame it happened like this.
“It’s a very difficult thing, playing against a team like Morocco who are very persistent.
“The penalties cost us, but I am very proud of the team and all the players. I am very sorry for the result but I thank Morocco.”
Opta stats: Spain stumble on penalties again
A year ago, in many national camps we told the players, ‘You have homework before the World Cup. You must receive at least 1,000 penalties with this group’. You can’t train them when they are with the national team’.
- Morocco is the fourth African team to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup, after Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.
- Morocco became the first country in Africa to win a penalty shootout at the World Cup, and this was the second time an African team has won (previously Ghana 2-4 Uruguay in 2010).
- Spain became the first country in World Cup history to concede four goals, while becoming only the second team to keep a clean sheet after Switzerland against Ukraine in 2006.
- Spain had just one shot on target in the 120 minutes of the match; since 1966 (when data is available), they have never had fewer than one World Cup match.
Friday December 9
Croatia vs Brazil – Start at 3pm
Netherlands vs Argentina – Start at 7pm
Saturday December 10
Morocco vs Portugal or Switzerland – Start at 3pm
England vs France – Start at 7pm