Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Morocco created history by sending Spain to penalty

RAYAN, Qatar ( Associated Press) — Yassin Bounou and Achraf Hakimi etched their names in Morocco’s history books by outclassing Spain in a penalty shootout.

In the first World Cup to be played in an Arab country, Morocco on Tuesday became the first team of that origin to reach the quarter-finals.

Morocco did so by beating Spain 3–0 on the penalty spot.

Hakimi will go down in history as the author of the most important penalty in his country and in Arab football, the highest national team tournament ever scored. At his side will be the name of Bouno, who has been exceptional under the stick after saving two penalties and keeping his goal empty against one of the highest goalscoring teams in the tournament.

Abdelhamid Sabiri and Hakim Ziyech also scored for Morocco after 11 steps in a 0–0 draw after 120 minutes.

Meanwhile, Pablo Sarabia, Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets missed penalties for Spain. Sarabia smashed his against the post and Bauno covered the other two.

“We feel the support of our fans, whether in Morocco or any other country in the world,” said Bounou.

Morocco were the only non-European or South American team in the top eight in Qatar and the first African team in the World Cup quarter-finals since Ghana in 2010. Second World Cup in a row.

“I don’t believe in coincidences, they have been better than us in the penalty shootout and we are eliminated,” said Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simeone.

Walid Regragui completes his incredible story at the helm of the Moroccan team, from which he took over the reins at the end of August. They recovered English Chelsea striker Ziyech, who returned after an absence of more than a year under the new coach.

“I think today we show the world that all Moroccans are Moroccans with their passports,” Regargui said. “When it comes to the national team, you want to die, you want to fight. And that’s what I want to show. And now, we have an example. The coach was born in France, but apart from my country I No one has any right on the heart.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco congratulated the players after the match.

The goal from Hakimi, the Paris Saint-Germain full-back who was born in Spain and rose to prominence at Real Madrid, sparked celebrations among Moroccan fans at the Education City stadium.

For their part, the Spaniards dashed into the central circle, bidding goodbye to their dream of winning their second title, to which they had credentialed with a thumping win against Costa Rica on their debut in Qatar.

Sarabia opened the shootout by curling the ball past the Sevilla goalkeeper’s left post. Simeone gave wings to Spanish hopes by stopping Bader Benoun’s shot, the third for Morocco, but Soler and Sergio Busquets ran into Bounoun’s gloves.

“All my responsibility because I chose the first three pitchers (…) We have not even reached the fourth. Unfortunately we have given our 100% and we congratulate the winning team”, Luis Enrique said after the match. “I feel sorry for the fans as they have broadcast their support and I am sorry”.

In a round-trip game, with moments for both Luis Enrique’s men’s trademark passing game and Moroccan Arreones, they both had opportunities to tip the scales in their favor during the regulation process.

Spain began the second half looking to settle the match, but could not find holes in the Moroccan wall, whose counterattacks were to no avail. With the score still tied and both teams focused on avoiding extra time, some great chances came.

Álvaro Morata, La Roja’s top scorer with three goals in Qatar, warned with a corner shot from the right that crossed Bauno’s goal. Walid Chedira answered him immediately with a rounded shot into the area that ended up in Simeone’s glove.

Nico Williams and Morata had the clearest chances at the start of extra time, and Chedira came close again on 104 minutes, but his shot went wide after Simeone saved. The penalty that would have given way before the final whistle was for Sarabia, who had just come onto the pitch, and missed a shot that skimmed the post.

The fight was very different in the packed stadium stands. In a sea of ​​red shirts, the color that identifies the two Mediterranean neighbours, the North African fans won by a landslide: they provided the duel’s soundtrack, whistling incessantly at any Spanish movement and cheers when the ball reached your boots.

It was the second game of this World Cup to be decided on penalties, with Croatia winning against Japan in the last 16 on Monday. Spain did not take advantage of their recent experience in these conditions – with two decisive shootouts at the Euros last year – and went through Qatar in the same round as four years ago, losing on penalties to hosts Russia.

Busquets, who at 35 is the sole survivor of the 2010 world champion team and the oldest footballer in one of the youngest teams in the tournament, equaled goalkeeper Iker Casillas and right-back Sergio Ramos as the Spaniards Most matches played with Spain. shirt.

“We have the qualities to continue,” Busquets said. “We got off in the cruelest way… To miss three penalties is very difficult.”

The Atlas Lions have been one of the revelations, finishing first in a tough group with Croatia, the current runners-up, and Belgium equaling their best historical result, the Round of 16 in Mexico 1986. They reached the quarter-finals in their sixth World Cup.

Morocco will next face Portugal, who beat Switzerland 6-1 in the day’s other game.

Nation World News Desk
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