Morocco’s hopes of reaching the knockout rounds for the first time since 1986 were raised by their victory over Belgium, which served as the latest Qatar 2022 surprise.
Belgium 0-2 Morocco | Group F
Goalscorers: Romain Saiss (73), Zakaria Aboukhlal (90+2)
Romain Saiss and Zakaria Aboukhlal’s late goals in Morocco’s 2-0 victory over Belgium on Sunday gave them a huge boost in their hopes of reaching the round of 16 of Qatar 2022.
In the 73rd minute, he deflected an Abdelhamid Sabiri free kick past Thibaut Courtois at his near post, giving Saints the lead. From an impressive Hakim Ziyech cutback, Aboukhlal shot past Courtois to put an end to any doubt.
If they had won their opening match against Canada, Roberto Martinez’s 2018 semifinalists would have advanced to the last 16; however, due to their lack of success, they may now need to beat Croatia in their final group match to qualify. Morocco currently holds the lead in Group F with four points, and Croatia and Canada will meet later that day.
Since 1986, when they beat Portugal 3-1 to reach the knockout stage, the north Africans have not competed in the tournament. When the understudy stopped a Michy Batshuayi shot from close range, he made an early save to calm any nerves.
When Ziyech whipped in a free kick from wide on the right that beat Courtois at his near post in stoppage time at the end of the first half, Morocco, who had the majority of the crowd at Al Thumama Stadium on their side, though they had given them a goal to celebrate. However, a VAR check determined that Romain Saiss, who was standing directly in front of the goalkeeper, was not in the game. For the breakthrough goal, Saiss would repeat the trick of hiding Courtois’ view. World News Sports
Ten minutes after the break, Belgium had another chance when Sofiane Boufal cut in from the left and shot just wide of the far post. However, the Red Devils would only have a brief respite as they suffered their first group-stage defeat since Saudi Arabia’s victory over them at USA 94.
After 68 minutes, Sabiri was brought on to start arguably Morocco’s greatest World Cup victory. He hasn’t started a game for his country yet, but he gave the Atlas Lions the lead with a viciously delivered free kick in just five minutes.