Portugal vs Morocco the quarter-final match played today between the two teams. No one had believed that football giant Cristiano’s team can be beaten by Morocco. After defeating Portugal 1-0 on Saturday, Morocco became the first African team to ever advance to the World Cup semifinals.
With a historic victory over France or England to go to the final, Youssef En-header Nesyri’s in the first half gave Morocco the advantage.
The three other African nations to advance to the quarterfinals before Morocco were Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002, and Ghana in 2010.
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Cristiano Ronaldo likely played his final World Cup game following an ineffective second-half substitute cameo in which he failed to net his first knockout-round goal of the competition.
En-header Nesyri’s in the 42nd minute gave Morocco the lead as they were making a strong late-first-period comeback.
After the break, Portugal increased the pressure, but an injured Morocco held on despite losing three of their four starting defenders after Romain Saiss was substituted. Morocco was reduced to 10 men in extra time.
Although Portugal struggled to generate many clear-cut chances as they lost a World Cup quarterfinal for the first time, the partisan crowd surely assisted the North Africans in winning.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner The Euro 2016 champions were in trouble when Fernando Santos brought on Ronaldo early in the second half.
As a result of recent unexpected victories over Belgium and Spain in Qatar, on penalties, it was another memorable day for Morocco.
On Wednesday at Al Bayt Stadium, Walid Regragui’s team will play either France, the defending champion, or England.
Having conceded just once all tournament, Morocco will think they can defeat either of the two teams.
Although Portugal had the majority of the possession in the first half, neither team came close to scoring in the opening minutes until Joao Felix’s diving header in the fifth minute, which Yassine Bounou saved.
However, Morocco always seemed dangerous, and Sofiane Boufal for the Africans curled directly at Diogo Costa while Selim Amallah ballooned a shot over.
Strikes by En-Nesyri
It came as no surprise when Morocco did surge ahead just before halftime.
Sevilla striker En-Nesyri completed the move with a soaring header after Portuguese goalkeeper Costa came for a cross from left-back Yahya Attiat-Allah that he was never going to get to.
Bruno Fernandes’ sensational crash of a ball from the right side of the box against the crossbar just seconds later nearly gave Portugal an amazing equaliser.
Attiat-Allah, who was only filling in for the injured Noussair Mazraoui in the frantic minutes just before halftime, also missed the target following another quick counter.
After Fernandes fell to the ground while being pressed by Achraf Hakimi at the other end, Portugal’s players were still arguing for a penalty.
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Four minutes after the restart, Morocco nearly increased their lead, but Costa just about stopped Hakim Ziyech’s right-side free kick from going in.
In the 51st minute, Santos quickly sent on Ronaldo and Joao Cancelo after calling for his captain.
Saiss’s stretcher off was a further setback for Morocco, which was already missing injured defenders Mazraoui and Nayef Aguero.
When Fernandes nearly missed tying the score again from the edge of the box, Portugal began to swarm the opposing goal.
With eight minutes left, Bounou needed to be at the top of his game to tip over Felix’s drive as Morocco was mostly keeping Portugal at bay.
Portugal spent the majority of the eight additional minutes camped in Morocco’s half, and Ronaldo nearly had his chance when Bounou blocked his low shot.
Walid Cheddira, a replacement for Morocco, was severely dismissed after receiving two minutes’ worth of consecutive yellow cards.
When clear through, Zakaria Aboukhlal had a chance to end the game but instead he dinked right at Costa.
Even though Pepe missed from close range at the very last second, his team managed to maintain their lead and go down in history.