Morocco have sealed their spot in the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in their history after beating Spain in the last 16 on penalties in Qatar.
The result means Morocco – the last African side in the tournament – will now play the winner of Portugal’s clash against Switzerland in the last eight on Saturday. Morocco won 3-0 on penalties with Spain-born Paris Saint-Germain star Achraf Hakimi registering the winning spot kick after slotting home a cheeky Panenka.
Abdelhamid Sabiri and Hakim Ziyech scored the other penalties for Morocco as goalkeeper Yassine Bono denied Carlos Soler and veteran Sergio Busquets, while Pablo Sarabia missed for Spain in a tense shootout.
Both sides had chances to win the game in an anxiety-inducing extra-time period but Morocco deserved to win the match over the course of the 120 minutes.
Despite dominating possession, Spain were largely poor over the course of the 90 minutes and then extra-time – attempting just one shot in the first half – their fewest in the opening 45 minutes of a World Cup game since at least 1966.
Spain had to wait until the 55th minute to register their first attempt on goal with Bono punching away Dani Olmo’s effort as they struggled to break down Morocco, who defended superbly throughout.
It was the African side who had the best chances to win the game inside normal time with Sofiane Boufal’s cross finding Nayef Aguerd – but he blasted his free header over the bar on 43 minutes in the biggest moment of the first half.
Spain continued to dominate possession after the break but it was again Morocco who looked more dangerous – as Azzedine Ounahi kept alive Hakimi’s cross in the 86th minute – but Walid Cheddira can’t wrap his foot around the shot.
Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon then almost scored a 92nd-minute own goal after his heavy touch allowed Abde Ezzalzouli to shut him down, before he was inches away from deflecting the clearance into his own net.
Aymeric Laporte had a chance for Spain deep into stoppage time with a free header but completely missed it as the game went to extra-time, and then penalties, as Luis Enrique’s side were stunned by a superb Moroccan team.
- A TalkSport report