Morocco etched their names in the history books after clinching the unexpected feat- dragging Spain into the penalties and outplaying the former champions to secure their 2022 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal entry this Tuesday at the Education City Stadium.
Spain, expected to sail into an easy victory, did manage to hold on to the ball more but repeatedly failed to break into the stout Moroccan defense right from the get go. Marco Asensio found his strike hitting the side of the net, while Noussair Mazraoui long distance strike would end up with Nayef Aguerd heading outside from close range.
Morocco kept absorbing the pressing from the Spaniards in the second half, with some brilliant saves from their keeper Yassine Bono, who was yet to be revealed as the hero of the night.
As the goalless deadlock went into extra time, there were two chances created for the African side. While they weren’t able to convert either of them into goals, the superb defense from Morocco saw them drawing the match into the penalty shootout.
Abdelhamid Sabiri scored the first spot kick for Morocco, while Pablo Sarabia missed the first shot for Spain. Hakim Ziyech made it 2-0, before Carlos Soler’s strike was saved by Bono. Badr Benoun missed his shot as well with Unai Simon keeping Spain’s hopes alive, but another save from Bono against none other than the Spanish skipper Sergio Busquets, boosted Morocco’s confidence again.
With just one goal away from victory, Achraf Hakimi approached the spot and beat Simon with a Panenka down the middle, kicking Spain out of the tournament while being the only African side to remain in contention.