Morocco after surprise against Spain in the quarterfinals
Created: 2022-12-06Updated: 2022-12-06, 6:57 p.m
Morocco goalkeeper Bono celebrates after a saved penalty.
© Robert Michael/dpa
Former world champions Spain and outsiders Morocco deliver a gripping fight in the World Cup round of 16 - and at the very end Morocco celebrates.
Al-Rajjan - The surprise team Morocco also defeated former world champions Spain in Qatar and are now in the quarter-finals of a football World Cup for the first time.
After 120 exciting but goalless minutes, the North Africans won 3-0 on penalties.
Their Sevilla goalkeeper Bono saved two penalties in front of 44,667 spectators at Doha's Education City stadium, while Spaniard Pablo Sarabia hit the post.
Morocco is only the fourth African country to make it into the top eight teams at a World Cup: only Ghana in 2010, Senegal in 2002 and Cameroon in 1990 had previously done so. In the preliminary round of this tournament, the team of Bayern professional Noussair Mazraoui and former German U21 national player Abdelhamid Sabiri has already left Croatia, second in the World Cup, and Belgium, third in the World Cup, behind.
The Spaniards, on the other hand, had already failed on penalties in the 2018 World Cup round of 16 (against Russia) and in the 2021 European Championship semi-finals (against Italy).
With the 2-1 defeat in the last group game, Spain had already raised doubts as to whether they would really be among the greats of this tournament.
As at the start of the tournament, the Spaniards stormed with Dani Olmo from RB Leipzig, Marco Asensio from Real Madrid and Ferran Torres from FC Barcelona.
And they played in their light blue third jerseys against a vociferous Moroccan majority in the stands, who mercilessly booed the Iberians.
Morocco pulled far back with a tight five-man line in midfield in front of a four-man defence.
A controversial free kick, kicked just over the bar by ex-Dortmunder Achraf Hakimi, was the first offensive action worth mentioning.
The well-known dangerous right side of the outsider with Paris professional Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech from Chelsea covered veteran Jordi Alba in particular as a returnee in the Spanish starting XI.
Before the break, La Roja looked in vain for gaps in the North Africans' defence.
Young stars Gavi and Pedri struggled in attacking midfield.
Only Asensio with a shot at the side netting frightened the Moroccans.
Regardless of the course of the game, Gavi made a remarkable mark: The super talent from FC Barcelona is now the youngest starting XI player in a knockout duel at a World Cup since Pelé in 1958. The legendary Brazilian was then when his team won 5-2 against hosts Sweden , 17 years and 249 days old.
Gavi now played at 18 years and 123 days.
At the same time, 34-year-old captain Sergio Busquets drew level with Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos in his 17th World Cup appearance for Spain.
The Moroccans were increasingly bold: Full-back Noussair Mazraoui from FC Bayern with a sharp shot and Nayef Aguerd with a header created a threat to Unai Simon's goal.
Even after the break, coach Walid Regragui's team did an enormous amount to ensure that their country's sixth appearance at the World Cup did not end that evening.
Spain coach Luis Enrique talks to Nico Williams before extra time begins.
© Robert Michael/dpa
Meanwhile, Spain's head coach Luis Enrique kept grimacing on the sidelines as the 2021 European Championship semi-finalists' attacks faltered.
An indirect free-kick from a tight angle then saw Morocco goalkeeper Bono raise his fists as Olmo fired.
Alvaro Morata then came on with the recommendation of three World Cup goals in Qatar as fresh striker for the drained Gavi.
Morocco's Achraf Hakimi and Spain's Dani Olmo battle for possession.
© Robert Michael/dpa
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Substitute Nico Williams also increased the pressure, especially since the Moroccans lost half their defense in the final stages of regulation time: Munich's Mazraoui and West Ham professional Nayef Aguerd were unable to continue playing.
But the Moroccans continued to fight valiantly and were lucky when Spain's Pablo Sarabia hit the post in extra-time injury.
The Spaniards then failed due to their nerves in the penalty shoot-out.