Morocco has so far had the best run at the Qatar World Cup. Coming out of Group F with Croatia, the two sides remain the only unbeaten teams in the tournament; however, unlike Croatia, Morocco has yet to be scored against an opponent as they have conceded only their own goal.
Out of the teams in the Last 4, Morocco has had arguably the most complicated path but is yet to lose; in the group stages, they handed the star-studded Belgium side a 2-0 loss at the Al Thumama Stadium. In the round of 16, they produced yet another statement performance beating former world champions Spain 3-0 on penalties. Portugal, coming off a 6-1 victory in the round of 16, seemed like the ones to enforce history, but Morocco rewrote it, becoming the first African side to get past the quarter-finals in the World Cup. If you want to know about France Is Two Games Away From Defending Their Title, click here.
Credits: The Wolf Street Journal
72-year-old history rewritten in 99 minutes
Ever since the inaugural World Cup tournament in 1930, in which only Egypt represented Africa, no country from the continent had made it past the quarter-finals till Morocco’s triumph against Portugal.
In the early stages of their matchup, Portugal dominated the ball, but their efforts to break Morocco’s impregnable defense were futile; Morocco, on the other hand, cut through on t counter-attacks. In the 42nd minute, after he had failed to convert three chances in half, Sevilla striker El-Nesyri scored a majestic header assisted by Attiyat-Allah. The second half saw the Portuguese play their best football of the night, but even bringing Cristiano Ronaldo on could not salvage the game as Morocco had an answer for every shot they attempted and every run they made. The North African side went on to secure their hard-earned victory, becoming the first African team to qualify for the semi-final of a World Cup tournament. All previous African sides to reach the quarter-finals were eliminated at this stage: Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002, and Ghana in 2010.
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Moroccan coach Walid Regragui had earlier stated that they have their eyes set on the trophy; however, to achieve that, they will have to go through defending champions France in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
End of the road
Portugal has now been eliminated from a World Cup quarter-final match for the first time in their history. They have previously progressed from their two other matches at this stage, the first time was in 1966 against Korea, and the other time was against England in 2006. In what could be the end of his international career, Cristiano Ronaldo was regarded as the best goals-scorer of all time. Ronaldo has failed to score in all eight knockout stage appearances at the World Cup.
Once more, coming short of winning their first-ever World Cup, Portugal has been eliminated from the tournament. With most of their better players in the twilight of their careers, what’s next for the European side?