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MOROCCO KEEP AFRICA’S WORLD CUP HOPES ALIVE

By Dylan Bettencourt

Morocco advanced to their first-ever Fifa World Cup quarter-final after defeating Spain 3-0 in a penalty shootout on Tuesday night.

Morocco are now the only African nation remaining in the showpiece, despite coming into the fixture as massive underdogs.

There is very little to separate the countries geographically and there was nothing to separate the sides after 120 minutes of football.

The Atlas Lions absorbed mass amounts of pressure from the Spanish attack but the defence held up to give Morocco their best chance of progression, penalties.

Being in the round of 16 was achievement enough for Morocco, who advanced past the group stage for the first time since the 1986 World Cup.

However, it was about to get a whole lot better for Morocco when Pablo Sarabia missed the opening penalty for Spain.

Abdelhamid Sabiri converted for Morocco before Carlos Soler missed for Spain with their second penalty.

Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou looked to be the hero for his country. However, a late twist was on the cards when Badr Benoun missed his penalty.

When Spanish legend Sergio Busquets stepped up, he flashed a confident smile at Bounou before tamely knocking the ball into the keeper’s arms. 0/3 for Spain.

The script was written in the stars when Spanish-born PSG player Achraf Hakimi walked over to the spot.

The star wing-back chipped his penalty down the middle to give Morocco the victory.

It is the first time in Moroccan history that they reached the quarter-final of a World Cup, and they did so through their first ever penalty shootout.

Morocco now face a tough task against either Switzerland or Portugal, but the North Africans are proving to be quite the dark horses.

Walid Regragui and his side have only conceded one goal all tournament, and that was an own goal.

Africa will be without a doubt behind Morocco when they take to the field for a spot in the final four on Saturday 10 December.

Pictured above: Morocco’s celebrations

Image source: @Goal

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