QATAR: After a 120-minute deadlock, Spain missed three penalties against Morocco in a dramatic shootout. With the win, Morocco advanced into the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in history.
Spain’s missed opportunities in the game finalized Morocco’s victory
Spain’s weaknesses in the attack were made clear throughout the match. They had only one shot on target throughout the match, their lowest total in a World Cup game.
Before the first half, Nayef Aguerd missed Morocco’s best chance when he shot from close range. After a drab second half, Morocco substitute Walid Cheddira was stopped one-on-one by Unai Simon in extra time. Pablo Sarabia’s volley in the final minute grazed the post.
After Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets had their penalty kicks saved by Bono, Achraf Hakimi coolly chipped the winning penalty down the middle to send Morocco through, with both teams unable to separate. Sarabia incredibly hit the post once more with Spain’s first spot kick, but the two teams were unable to separate.
In the quarterfinals on Saturday, December 10, at 3 p.m., Morocco will face either Portugal or Switzerland, who will play tonight at 7 p.m.
Although Luis Enrique’s team had 77% possession and 926 precise passes, they could not break down a determined Morocco. Bono pushed Gavi’s shot over the crossbar throughout the match, and the goalkeeper stopped Ferran Torres’ follow-up shot in the six-yard box, but the offside flag was still up.
Marco Asensio scored their best goal of the first period by volleying a ball into the side net from behind the Morocco defence.
Before Simon saved Noussair Mazraoui’s long-range effort at the second attempt, Morocco had already seen Hakimi flag a free kick that was just wide of the goal.
Their brilliant opportunity, however, came when Sofiane Boufal crossed for Aguerd, who headed the ball over the goalpost.
The second half of the game was more frustrating for Spain because of the outstanding play of Sofyan Amrabat in the middle of the Morrocan midfield and the dominant performances of Romain Saiss and Aguerd at centre-back.
After Abdelhamid Sabiri had given Morocco the lead, he side-footed his penalty kick off the right post, striking the woodwork again. Bono saved them from Soler by doubling Hakim Ziyech’s advantage and putting them on the verge of victory.
But Badr Benoun was stopped by Simon to keep Spain in the game, and Bono did it again, stopping captain Busquets right away before Hakimi boldly won it with a Panenka.