Morocco goalkeeper Youssef Bounou
Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
Morocco eliminated the Spanish national team with a penalty shoot-out victory and is in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Qatar.
It was 0-0 at the Education City Stadium after 120 minutes, but then all three Spanish penalty takers missed.
Morocco superstar Achraf Hakimi sent his team into the last eight with a Panenka penalty.
The fact that Morocco would not be an easy task for the Spaniards had already been indicated in the group phase: With seven points, the North Africans had prevailed against runners-up Croatia and Belgium as group winners, Spain was only second in Group E behind Japan .
The Spanish role as favorites was also only rudimentary on the pitch.
La Roja, replacing the ailing Dani Carjaval with Marcos Llorente on the right side of defence, let the ball run through their own ranks as confidently as usual.
However, Luis Enrique's team hardly scored any goals, a double chance from Gavi and Ferran Torres, which was cleared by goalkeeper Yassine Bounou and Nordin Amrabat, was created from an offside position (25').
Boufal's dribbles cause problems for Spain
More often, the disciplined defending Moroccans became dangerous.
Their means: Winning the ball in midfield and dribbling down the wings, particularly from left winger asset Sofiane Boufal.
He prepared a header chance for Hakimi with a cross (42'), Bayern full-back Noussair Mazraoui had previously tested Spain goalkeeper Unai Simón with a long-range shot (33'), who brought the ball under control in the follow-up.
After the break, it was a game of patience for the Spaniards, Morocco's pinpricks became rarer.
Dani Olmo failed with a free kick from a tight angle by Bounou (55), more half-chances followed.
The fact that the game tipped in the direction of the Spaniards was also due to the fact that the Moroccans were dwindling: First Boufal, who was pale in the second half, left the field (66th), later coach Walid Regragui also got Mazraoui and regular striker Youssef En-Nesyri place (82nd).
Central defender Nayef Aguerd was also out due to injury (84').
Morocco is always dangerous
Despite this, Morocco fought their way into extra time and even appeared several times in the Spanish penalty area in added time without being able to finish.
Spain's last chance in regular time came again from a free-kick from Olmo, again Bounou won (90+5).
In extra time, the Spaniards were overwhelmingly superior, but Morocco had the best chances: first Walid Cheddira was intercepted by Aymeric Laporte in the last few meters (90+5), but the substitute striker was offside anyway.
With Cheddira's second big chance, everything went according to plan, Simón saved Spain with a foot defense to make it 0-0 (104th).
New substitutes Pablo Sarabia and Carlos Soler started the penalty shoot-out for Spain.
Sarabia hit the post and Soler failed to find Bounou, who thwarted the poorly-taken penalty.
Abdelhamid Sabiri and Hakim Ziyech scored for Morocco before Badr Banoun missed.
However, Spain captain Sergio Busquets was unable to get his side closer, also denied by Bounou.
Hakimi turned the match point into the middle.