Morocco 1-0 Portugal : The Africans made incredible entry into the semifinals

Last Updated on 10/12/2022 by

After defeating Portugal 1-0 at the Al Thumama Stadium, Morocco made history by becoming the first African country to advance to the World Cup semifinals.

Morocco is going against the grain of what has historically been the case for African teams at the World Cup, as they have been competing against European powers while swimming against a rip current in the Persian Gulf. It is therefore fitting that the goal, for a team known for attacking rather effectively up the right with Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech, came from the left. Instead, Youssef En-Nesyri scored on a Yahya Attiat-Allah cross in the 42nd minute to advance the first African team to the World Cup semifinals and end Cristiano Ronaldo’s tournament without a medal or even a goal in the knockout stage.

morocco vs portugal
pic @twitter

Three other African teams—Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002, and Ghana in 2010—have advanced to the quarterfinals but lost to European teams twice. However, this Morocco team has picked up a few tips from its opponents in Qatar. It hasn’t been simple for the Atlas Lions to compete in this tournament. They drew their first match with 2018 champions and current 2022 semifinalist Croatia before defeating 2018 semifinalist Belgium. They eliminated Canada to win Group F before eliminating Spain on penalties in the round of 16 to advance to the Iberian Peninsula, where they are located just south of. Portugal, a neighbour, came next.

Morocco once again showcased their incredible defensive solidity, despite having a myriad of injuries to deal with, especially in their back four. Portugal were restricted to very few chances throughout the 90 minutes and even the introduction of Ronaldo early in the second half did little to change the match. In what has been a World Cup for the underdogs, Morocco now join Croatia as two brilliant dark horses to reach the last four.

When the team news was revealed, Ronaldo was named to the bench for a second straight game after being left off against Switzerland in the round of 16. This was big news in both camps. Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui, two essential defensive players for Morocco, were also absent, but Romain Saiss, who had also fought against Spain, was deemed fit enough to start.

morocco vs portugal
pic @twitter

Defenders Jawad El Yamiq and Yahia Attiyat Allah entered the game, and they were valiant and strong in stopping Portugal’s star attackers. In terms of offence, Attiyat Allah was equally important because it was his cross that En-Nesyri connected with late in the first half, beating Ruben Dias and goalkeeper Diogo Costa to give Morocco the lead. Joao Felix had three half-chance shots during the largely cagey first half, but that goal made the game much more open for the final few minutes of the first half.

En-Nesyri deserves credit for the goal—his second of the competition and second shot on goal—but Diogo Costa should be questioned. The Portuguese goalkeeper made the decision to stray from his position and ended up in goalkeepers’ hell. Portugal committed a error that resulted in a goal for Morocco.

Six minutes into the second half, Portugal substituted Joao Cancelo and Ronaldo. If you can get them, these are not a bad pair of names to have on hand. And if the former was going to score a goal in the World Cup’s knockout rounds, it was going to be a significant one in his 22nd World Cup game—possibly even one that extended his international career.

morocco vs portugal
pic @twitter

His first attempt to set it up was a touch to Félix for a first-time strike in the 82nd minute, but Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou deflected it over the crossbar with a sprawling save. The opportunity finally materialised in the 91st minute, but Ronaldo’s close-range shot was stopped. That is not the miss Portugal that people will recall. It will be that of Pepe, a seasoned teammate whose errant header in stoppage time. The pair’s bid for the trophy came to an end in this manner, with Ronaldo playing the 570 minutes of knockout-stage football at World Cups without scoring.

The Moroccan crowd and bench were in a state of shock and delirium after the final whistle, and Ronaldo sobbed as he left the field knowing that this was probably his last chance to capture the elusive World Cup.

Nothing is impossible for this team making history, and on Wednesday at the Al Bayt Stadium, Morocco will face the winners of the quarterfinal between England and France. Regragui’s men won’t be afraid of anyone because they have now defeated Belgium, Spain, and Portugal. Fernando Santos’ job is in serious danger for Portugal because he hasn’t performed up to expectations since bringing home the Euro 2016 trophy in France six years ago. For a team with their calibre, more was expected.


Argentina knockout Netherlands in Penalties after an incredible Oranje comeback

Croatia won in penalties, eliminating Brazil out of World Cup

Portugal 6-1 Switzerland : Portugal through to quarterfinals with incredible display

Leave a Comment

Share via
Copy link