© Reuters. Soccer Soccer – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Quarter Remaining – Morocco v Portugal – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar – December 10, 2022 Morocco’s Achraf Dari and Morocco’s Walid Cheddira rejoice after the match as Morocco progress to the semi finals REUT
By Mark Gleeson
DOHA (Reuters) – Morocco wrote World Cup historical past on Saturday evening as the primary African and Arab nation to succeed in the match’s semi-finals, persevering with their shock run in Qatar with a shock 1-0 victory over the extremely fancied Portugal.
Youssef En-Nesyri leapt excessive within the air to go residence the sport’s solely purpose simply earlier than half-time on the Al-Thumama Stadium to strike a major blow towards soccer’s established order and guide a semi-final on Wednesday towards both England or France, who meet afterward Saturday.
The outcome will probably be broadly celebrated throughout Africa and the Arabic-speaking Center East, determined to see one among their groups in rivalry for the largest prize in soccer.
Morocco had already taken the scalps of Belgium and Spain on this match however the win over Portugal is of a lot larger significance.
It was additionally one among Morocco’s higher performances in Qatar, stuffed with decided defending and canny counters, conserving at bay a group of world stars regardless of shedding key defender Nayef Aguerd to harm earlier than the match and his again 4 companion and captain Romain Saiss early within the second half.
Portugal will see it as a missed alternative towards the lowest-ranked aspect left within the match and a disappointing curtain name for the 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, who walked down the tunnel on the finish of the sport in tears.
Morocco, once more noisily inspired by the vast majority of the 44,198-strong crowd, mentioned they had been fatigued after their last-16 success over Spain and instantly went into defensive mode as Portugal attacked from the outset.
A fourth-minute free kick for Portugal from vast on the proper was swung into the penalty space, and met by Joao Felix’s diving header, producing a high-quality save from Yassine Bounou.
However the provide shortly dried up thereafter as Morocco closed the passing lanes and annoyed the Portuguese attackers.
Joao Felix had two extra half probabilities within the first half however Morocco gained in confidence and located a sudden spring of their step, often breaking on the counter assault.
Left again Yahya Attiat-Allah made a number of surging runs down the flank, presenting Selim Amallah with a great likelihood within the thirty fifth minute, which he was unable to transform.
However seven minutes later, a excessive ball from the fullback into the Portuguese field was met by a towering header from En-Nesyri, outjumping each goalkeeper Diogo Costa and defender Ruben Dias handy Morocco the lead.
Portuguese frustration was evident as they swarmed the Argentine referee Facundo Tello on the finish of the primary half, complaining that a number of penalty appeals had been turned down.
Morocco got here near a second purpose 4 minutes into the second half as Jawad El Yamiq received a contact to Hakim Ziyech’s in-swinging free kick however Costa was in place this time to dam.
Ronaldo’s entry within the 51st minute was met with a loud refrain of jeers, however he did inject a brand new power into the Portugal aspect for whom Goncalo Ramos, the hat-trick hero of their 6-1 win over Switzerland within the earlier spherical, missed with a close-in header within the 58th minute.
Bruno Fernandes hit excessive of the crossbar 5 minutes later as Portugal threw extra into assault and Morocco started to take a seat deeper. Bounou saved once more from Joao Felix with seven minutes left.
Morocco’s Walid Cheddira was despatched off in stoppage time after receiving two yellow playing cards in fast succession.
However his aspect, to the delight of their raucous assist, held out for a well-known victory.
“It took us a very long time to get into the sport. The gamers wished to, however they could not,” mentioned Portugal coach Fernando Santos.
“The gamers had been very assured, they wished it quite a bit, however the reality is that we weren’t capable of present all of our sport. We could not make goalscoring probabilities. Leaving the World Cup at all times hurts.”