Euro 2020 Special

World Cup Quarter Finals Decided: Morocco and Portugal Claim Their Place

The identity of all eight quarter-finalists at the 2022 World Cup are now known after the last two round of 16 matches were played.


Morocco 0 Spain 0 (Morocco win on penalties)

Morocco became just the fourth African side ever – following in the footsteps of Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002, and Ghana in 2010 – to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

They did it the hard way, frustrating Spain for 120 minutes, and then beating them on penalties.

It was a match of very few clear cut chances, with Spain having the majority of possession but struggling to create many goal scoring opportunities.

The North African side were dogged in defence and only periodically threatened on the counter attack, although the might have taken the lead when Nayef Aguerd was unmarked in the box, but he could only guide his header over the bar.

Spain’s best chance in normal time came when Dani Olmo hit a drive that the Moroccan goalkeeper Bono parried and then managed to keep out the follow-up.

As the match headed into extra time, gaps began to appear, and substitute Walid Cheddira should have given Morocco the lead, but his shot was weak and easily saved by Unai Simon in the Spain goal.

In the last minute of extra time, substitute Pablo Sarabia, on as a late substitute, came desperately close to winning it for Spain but his shot flashed across goal and clipped the outside of the opposite post.

That meant penalties with Spain winning the choice of ends, but Morocco opting to take their’s first.

Unfortunately for Spain, they missed their first three spot kicks, with none of them convincing at all. Morocco scored their first two and, although they missed one of their won, they held what amounted to match point when Achraf Hakimi strode up to take his.

Simon dived to his right, whilst Hakimi chipped him with a Panenka to send his team mates and the Moroccan fans in the stadium into ecstasy.

The Spanish players meanwhile lay on the floor in disbelief, many of them in tears. A campaign that had begun with them putting seven goals past Costa Rica ultimately foundered on their inability to put the ball in the need.


Portugal 6 Switzerland 1

If the first match of the day proved to be an extremely close contest, the second proved to be anything but, as the Portuguese thrashed the Swiss.

The big news for Portugal before their last 16 clash with Switzerland was the decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo to the bench by Fernando Santos, the Portuguese manager. Ronaldo had reacted badly to being substituted in Portugal’s last group game against South Korea, and Santos was determined not to allow his behaviour to undermine his team.

The man who replaced him in that game, Gonçalo Ramos was handed his first international start instead, whilst Pépé took over the captaincy, and Santos was fully vindicated as both made their mark, whilst the team overall appeared liberated by Ronaldo’s absence and were more fluid.

It was Ramos who gave Portugal the lead in the 17th minute when he turned and fired home a fierce drive with his left foot, although Yann Sommer in the Swiss goal would not have been happy to be beaten at his near post.

And then Pépé made it two from a corner, as he was left unmarked to head home.

Whatever plans the Swiss had about getting back into the game at half-time, were rendered useless, when Ramos got his second, beating his marker in front of the near post to flick in a cross by Diego Dalot.

And then Ramos turned provider, setting up Raphael Guerreiro to rifle a shot high into the net.

Ramos even had a part to play in the Swiss goal when he inadvertently flicked on a corner for Manuel Akanji to bundle home almost on the line. The goal was greeted in silence by the stadium, with even the Swiss supporters knowing that the game was up by then.

Ramos though, had not finished his evening’s work, and he completed his hat-trick when he ran on to a ball from Joāo Felix and then just clipped the ball over the keeper.

It was the first hat-trick scored in the 2022 World Cup.

Job done, he was withdrawn in favour of Ronaldo, which brought about the biggest cheer of the night from the crowd in the stadium. And he thought that he had capped the evening for his side when he ran onto a through ball and fired home, only to be given offside.

There was still time for Portugal, to add a sixth, but it was all down to the work of another substitute, Rafael Leāo, who surged into the box, cut inside and curled his shot into the fine corner. On an evening of fine goals, this was the best of the lot.

The match ended with Portugal having created a unique piece of history, becoming only the second team in the 21st century to score six or more goals in a World Cup knock-out game, the other being Germany in the 7 -1 demolition of Brazil in the semi-final of 2014.


What happens next

Morocco and Portugal join the six other qualified teams – The Netherlands, England, Argentina, France, Brazil and Croatia in the quarter-finals and will now play each other on Saturday, December 10th.




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