FIFA World Cup 2022: Morocco upset Spain on penalties to reach quarterfinals

7 December, 2022

Having defeated Belgium already in the group stages, Walid Regragui’s Morrocan unit pulled off yet another stunning performance in the FIFA World Cup, this time in the knockout stages. They defeated 2010 champions Spain on penalties in what was a heroic defensive display from the side to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. 

Spain, as they usually do, had the majority of the ball in their control in this game as well, but none of their starting attackers made a difference. Ferran Torres struggled to make an impact, whilst Marco Asensio and Dani Olmo fluffed half chances. Plenty of lateral passing led to nothing, ultimately leaving the fans frustrated. 

Morocco had a couple of terrific chances in the first half and Hakim Ziyech’s creative brain was displayed on the breakaways. However, their attacking opportunities did not lead to anything special as well. Towards the end of the first half, Achraf Hakimi’s cross fell nicely for Boufal after a Busquet’s intervention but Boufal missed the target. 

Hakimi’s terrific cross once again got the Spanish defenders hurried towards the dying minutes of the match, but Cheddira did not get enough meat on his shot as Unai Simon made a simple save. There were no goals scored in normal time and the match went into another extra minute of open play. 

Early on in the extra time, Morocco made the Spanish defense work hard to keep their clean sheet. Cheddar missed a one-on-one with Unai Simon in the 104th minute, which was possibly their best chance of the match. 

Pablo Sarabia was brought in for Inaki Williams with two minutes remaining in the match. The PSG midfielder, with just 30 seconds remaining, hit the crossbar from a tight angle in what was Spain’s clearest opportunity of the match.

Bono, the Moroccan goal-keeper who plays for Sevilla, had nothing to do in the first penalty of the shootout, which Sarabia dragged wide. Carlos Soler’s next shot was saved shortly after Hakim Ziyech made it 2-0 for the African team. Although Unai Simon regathered with one good save off Badr Benoun, Sergio Busquets missed Spain’s third kick as well, gifting Hakimi a match point.

The right-back born in Madrid chipped the ball comfortably to take his country to the quarter-finals for the first time. Spain, who lost to Russia on penalties in 2018, lost once again on penalties in the same stage. They are yet to reach the quarterfinals of a major competition since their 2012 Euro triumph.