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Friday, March 24, 2023

World Cup 2022-Morocco v Portugal

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Morocco’s remarkable World Cup campaign has reached new heights after the Atlas Lions beat Portugal 1-0 to become the first Arab and African country to ever reach the tournament’s semi-finals stage.Youssef En Nesyri’s soaring 42nd-minute header proved the difference for coach Walid Regragui’s side, whose resolute defensive display on Saturday capped a remarkable showing in Qatar which has now seen them play more than seven hours of football without conceding to an opposition player.Even Walid Cheddira’s red card in the third minute of extra time could not take the shine off their against-the-odds victory, which sparked an outpouring of joy among the tens of thousands of Morocco fans packed inside the Al Thumama Stadium.Highly fancied Portugal, who had dominated the ball throughout, proved unable to unlock their rivals’ backline despite all their possession and the summoning of record-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo from the substitutes bench shortly after half-time.The five-time world player of the year is set to finish his career without capturing the World Cup or ever getting to the final, but his appearance off the bench did see him become the joint all-time leading appearance-maker in men’s international football with 196 caps. Morocco, the pride of the Arab world at the inaugural World Cup in the Middle East, will face England or France in the semi-finals on 14 December.

Morocco had already beaten Belgium and Spain in this tournament, but beating Portugal is far more important.It was one of the team’s better performances in Qatar, and despite the early loss of key defender Nayef Aguerd and his partner Back 4 and captain Romain Saiss to injury before the game, the world star’s Full of decisive defense and skillful counterattacks that kept the Constellations at bay were losing the second half of the game.Portugal missed the chance against bottom of the tournament and sees a disappointing result for the 37-year-old Ronaldo.Morocco, again roared and encouraged by the majority of the 44,198 crowd, said they were tired after their Round of 16 victory over Spain and quickly turned to defense when Portugal attacked from the start. In the 4th minute, a Portuguese free-kick from the right was tipped into the box, where João Félix headed in and Yasin Boonou made a great save.But then supplies quickly dried up as Morocco blocked the passing lane, frustrating the Portuguese attackers.

Joao Felix had more chances in his two halves in the first half, but Morocco gained confidence and often broke on counterattacks.Left-back Yahya Atti-At-Allah had several shots from the flanks to create opportunities for Selim Ammallah in the 35th minute, but they weren’t able to score.But seven minutes later, a high ball from full-back into the Portuguese box passed both goalkeeper Diogo Costa and defender Rubén Diaz to give Morocco the lead with a spectacular header from En Nesiri. intercepted by The Portuguese’ frustration was evident at the end of the first half when they crowded around Argentine referee Facundo Tello, complaining that several penalty appeals had been denied.Morocco came close to a second goal four minutes into the second half when Jawad El Yammik touched a Hakim Ziyech free-kick, but Costa blocked it this time.Ronaldo was brought on in the 51st minute and there was a lot of cheering, but Gonzalo Ramos, the hero of the hat-trick in the 6-1 victory over Switzerland in the qualifying round, scored a small goal to give Portugal renewed energy. Missed with a header in the 58th minute.

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