The Moroccan national team qualified for the quarter-finals of the World Cup “Qatar 2022” for the first time in its history, on Tuesday, after defeating its Spanish counterpart by penalty kicks (3-0) in a match whose original and extra time ended in a draw without goals.
The first half of the match was mediocre, dominated by cautious performance, especially from the Spanish side, amid a clear advantage for the Moroccan national team, which appeared more organized and eager to reach the goal from the first minutes.
Attempts by the “Atlas Lions” relied on the movements of Sofiane Boufal and Hakim Ziyech in the outskirts, with effective support from Ashraf Hakimi and Naseer Mazraoui, in increasing the offensive intensity and pressure in the regions of Spain.
The first real threat came with a long shot from Mazraoui, which was blocked by Unai Simon with difficulty, then a direct free kick came by Hakimi, slightly above the horizontal bar, while the most dangerous was Nayef Akrad’s header, which almost put Morocco in the lead at the 42nd minute.
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On the other hand, the Spanish national team took possession without creating only one playful opportunity, in which the ball reached Marco Asensio, who shot from a difficult angle and shook the outer net of Yassin Bono’s goal.
The second half witnessed a significant improvement in the offensive performance of the “Matador”, by trying to penetrate from depth, before switching to playing on the sides, with the entry of Morata, who is good at rising and shooting with the head.
Gradually, the Spanish national team took control of the course of the game, which prompted Morocco to retreat in its backcourt and wait for the right opportunity to counterattack with attacks, substitute Walid Chedira almost scored from one of them in the 85th minute.
The nets of the two teams remained clean until the end of the original time of the match, to resort to two additional halves, the first of which was known as Chedira wasting an incredible opportunity after he slipped between the defenders and hit an easy ball that was saved by Unai Simon, denying Morocco a goal.
In the second extra half, the Spanish national team continued its offensive pressure and the Moroccans continued to defend until the last minute, when substitute Sarabia was close to finishing everything, had his ball not been hit by the right post.
With the continuation of the negative tie, the two sides resorted to penalty kicks, which witnessed a great brilliance from goalkeeper Yassin Bono, who saved two kicks and led the Atlas Lions to the quarter-finals as the first Arab team to achieve this achievement.
Morocco’s national team will meet in the next round, on Saturday, December 10th, with the qualifier from Portugal and Switzerland.
It is noteworthy that Morocco participated in 5 previous versions of the tournament, and its best achievement was reaching the round of 16 in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, before defeating Germany with the goal of Luther Matthaus and leaving the competition.