Eliminating Spain, Morocco qualifies to quarterfinals
Morocco became the first Arab country to reach the World Cup quarterfinals.
In the round of 16 of the World Cup in Qatar, Morocco eliminating Spain on penalties and succeeded to make it to the quarterfinals for the first time in tournament history.
In the shootout, the Spaniards failed to convert a single penalty, with the first one being missed by late substitution Pablo Sarabia after the Moroccans calmly put in their first.
After Moroccan goalkeeper “Bono” stopped Spain’s second penalty attempt, Hakim Ziyech went on to score Morocco’s second penalty. Unai Simon’s stop prevented the Moroccans from converting their third penalty, giving the Spaniards some hope. The Moroccans needed just one more goal to advance after the Spanish captain Sergio Busquets’ penalty was saved, which may have been his final game for Spain.
Achraf Hakimi, a Madrid native, quietly rose to the occasion and dispatched Spain with a steely “panenka” to advance Morocco to the quarterfinals eliminating Spain—a first for any Arab country.
It was the first time Morocco has ever participated in a World Cup penalty shootout.
Since Turkey advanced to the semifinals in 2002, Morocco is the first Middle Eastern and North African team to reach the quarterfinals.
In five World Cup matches before to this one, Morocco had only won two of 15 games, against Scotland in 1998 and Portugal in 1986, the year the Atlas Lions advanced past the group stages for the first time.
Following the elimination of Qatar, Iran, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia during the group stages, Morocco was the only Middle Eastern and North African team to advance to the round of 16.
Morocco will play the winner of the Portugal-Switzerland match in the quarter-finals.