Morocco wrote World Cup history on Saturday night because the first African and Arab usa to reach the event’s semi-finals, continuing their marvel run in Qatar with a surprise 1-zero victory over the quite fancied Portugal.
Youssef En-Nesyri leapt excessive within the air to move home the game’s only purpose simply before half-time on the Al-Thumama Stadium to strike a substantial blow in opposition to football’s hooked up order and book a semi-very last on Wednesday towards either England or France, who meet afterward Saturday.
The result could be widely celebrated across Africa and the Arabic-speaking Middle East, determined to look considered one of their teams in contention for the largest prize in soccer.
Morocco had already taken the scalps of Belgium and Spain on this match however the win over Portugal is of tons more significance.It changed into also one in all Morocco’s higher performances in Qatar, full of decided defending and canny counters, keeping at bay a set of world stars no matter losing key defender Nayef Aguerd to damage earlier than the fit and his returned 4 associate and captain Romain Saiss early in the 2d 1/2.
Portugal will see it as a neglected possibility in opposition to the bottom-ranked side left in the match and a disappointing curtain call for the 37-yr-vintage Cristiano Ronaldo.Morocco, again noisily endorsed by the general public of the 44,198-strong crowd, stated they had been fatigued after their final-sixteen achievement over Spain and straight away went into defensive mode as Portugal attacked from the outset.
A fourth-minute free kick for Portugal from extensive on the right become swung into the penalty vicinity, and met through Joao Felix’s diving header, producing a excellent store from Yassine Bounou.
But the deliver fast dried up thereafter as Morocco closed the passing lanes and annoyed the Portuguese attackers.
Joao Felix had two more half of chances in the first 1/2 however Morocco received in self belief and observed a unexpected spring in their step, often breaking at the counter attack.
Left back Yahya Attiat-Allah made numerous surging runs down the flank, imparting Selim Amallah with a great chance within the 35th minute, which he become unable to transform.But seven mins later, a excessive ball from the fullback into the Portuguese field was met by using a towering header from En-Nesyri, outjumping each goalkeeper Diogo Costa and defender Ruben Dias to hand Morocco the lead.
Portuguese frustration became obtrusive as they swarmed the Argentine referee Facundo Tello at the cease of the primary 1/2, complaining that numerous penalty appeals have been turned down.
Morocco got here near a 2d purpose 4 minutes into the second half of as Jawad El Yamiq got a hint to Hakim Ziyech’s in-swinging free kick however Costa was in region this time to block.
Ronaldo’s access in the 51st minute changed into met with a loud refrain of jeers, but he did inject a new strength into the Portugal aspect for whom Goncalo Ramos, the hat-trick hero of their 6-1 win over Switzerland within the previous round, missed with a close-in header in the 58th minute.
Bruno Fernandes hit over the top of the crossbar 5 mins later as Portugal threw extra into assault and Morocco began to sit down deeper. Bounou saved once more from Joao Felix with seven minutes left.