Sat, 02 Dec 2023

The North Africans are into the last eight of a World Cup for the first time ever

Morocco secured place in the World Cup quarterfinals with a penalty shootout victory against Spain in Qatar, marking the first time ever that the North Africans have reached the last eight of the tournament.

After the teams could not be separated by a goalless 90 minutes and extra time, Morocco downed their rivals from the spot, winning the shootout 3-0 thanks to a pair of saves from goalkeeper Bono and some woeful Spanish efforts.

With history beckoning, it was Paris Saint-Germain star Achraf Hakimi who stepped up to coolly dink the winning penalty down the middle.

Spain paid the price for not converting their possession into goals during the game, and the penalty efforts from Luis Enrique's team - combined with superb goalkeeping from Morocco's Bono - consigned the 2010 World Cup winners to another meek exit.

The shootout had begun with Abdelhamid Sabiri tucking home the opening penalty for Morocco, before Pablo Sarabia struck the post for Spain.

Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech then drilled his penalty down the middle, before a tame effort from Carlos Soler was gratefully saved by Moroccan stopper Bono.

Unai Simon kept Spain's chances alive by guessing the right way to save from Badr Benoun, but Barcelona veteran Sergio Busquets then placed another tame effort for Bono to palm away.

Hakimi calmy slotted home to spark jubilation among the Atlas Lions and their formidable support inside the stadium and within the surrounding area.

Morocco will meet the winners of the last-16 fixture between Portugal and Switzerland in the quarterfinals on Saturday, marking new territory for the North Africans.

A Spanish team mixing the talent of precocious playmakers such as Gavi and Pedri and older heads such as Busquets will have to regroup, potentially without Enrique at the helm, as they contemplate more major tournament disappointment following the golden years of 2008 to 2012.

Bono was the shootout hero for his team.

� Alex Grimm / Getty Images



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