Atlas Lions edge past Spain on penalties to become the first Arab country to reach World Cup quarter-finals.
Morocco have booked their place in the World Cup’s quarter-finals after a sensational penalty shootout win against Spain, becoming the first Arab country to ever reach the tournament’s last eight.
The Atlas Lions’ Spanish-born superstar wing-back Achraf Hakimi brought the curtain down on Tuesday’s last-16 clash at the Education City Stadium, notching the winner from the spot to make it 3-0 on penalties and sending the tens of thousands of raucous Moroccan fans in attendance into rapture.
keeper Yassine Bounou stopped the other two.
It was a goalless deadlock after the 120 minutes of normal and extra time and penalty kicks were necessary to break the impasse.
Morocco will next face either Portugal or Switzerland in the quarter-finals on Saturday. The Atlas Lions are the only team from outside Europe or South America still in the tournament.
Jawad El Yamiq celebrates Morocco’s historic win
Spain’s penalty practice proves insufficient
Spain had been hoping they could repeat their 2010 World Cup triumph in Qatar after a promising run at Euro 2020 that saw them reach the semi-finals before being beaten on penalties by Italy.
Coach Luis Enrique said before Tuesday’s showdown with Morocco that he had instructed his players to take “at least 1,000 penalties” in the build-up to the World Cup in a bid to ensure they were ready to deal with the pressure of a penalty shoot-out.
But their preparation came up short in the heat of the contest, with Sarabia striking the post from Spain’s first penalty having been specifically sent on in anticipation of the shoot-out.
His miss came after Abdelhamid Sabiri had sent Morocco 1-0 ahead in the shootout, and paved the way for Hakim Ziyech to net for the Atlas Lions and put them 2-0 ahead.
Soler then saw his effort saved by Yassine Bounou, Morocco’s 31-year-old Canadian-born goalkeeper, before Badr Benoun also missed for Morocco.
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