FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Morocco book historic World Cup semi-final place as En-Nesyri stuns Portugal

Youssef En-first-half Nesyri’s winner added Portugal to the list of surprised teams in Qatar, as Morocco became the first African country to advance to the World Cup semifinals. En-Nesyri capitalized on Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa’s error to score a historic goal for Walid Regragui’s team and the entire African continent. Even Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival in the 51st minute—he was once again benched by Fernando Santos, his manager—failed to spark a Portugal comeback as Bruno Fernandes struck the crossbar and Goncalo Ramos and Bernardo Silva both missed the goal from strong positions.

Late in the game, Morocco needed a miracle from goalkeeper Bono who turned away shots from Ronaldo and Joao Felix while Pepe squandered a clear chance in the final minute of stoppage time. Walid Cheddira, a substitute striker, was also dismissed for receiving two rapid yellow cards. Morocco’s unexpected journey to the World Cup semifinals, which included victories against Belgium, Spain, and Portugal and just one own goal allowed in five games, sets up a matchup with the victor of England versus France.

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Morocco books historic World Cup semi-final

Morocco book historic World Cup semi-final place as En-Nesyri stuns Portugal-2

Joao Felix had a pair of first-half opportunities as Portugal started the game strongly after their 6-1 victory over Switzerland in the round of 16. When found in acres of space, the attacker flashed over a first-time finish from the edge of the box after heading an early header straight at Bono and seeing a deflected drive fall on top of the Moroccan goalkeeper’s net. En-free Neysri’s header from a corner served as a warning to Fernando Santos’ team about the threat he posed in the air. Selim Amallah and Sofiane Boufal also had chances to score, but both shots missed the mark.

Also Read: Croatia stun five-time world champions Brazil in the dramatic penalty shootout win (4-2 on pens)

Three minutes before halftime, Morocco’s tenacity paid off when Portugal’s goalkeeper Costa charged Attiyat Allah’s long looping pass from the left and tripped his own defender Dias, allowing En-Neysri to nod home. As the first half came to a frenetic close, Fernandes struck a dipping volley against the crossbar and then, after being passed through on goal, saw a penalty claim waved away by referee Facundo Tello. Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick test of Costa’s gloves early in the second half of play for Morocco was a significant opportunity that led to the entrance of Ronaldo after 51 minutes.

However, immediately following Ronaldo’s entry, Goncalo Ramos missed a significant opportunity by heading Otavio’s defense-opening cross wide from inside the box. Bernardo Silva had two excellent chances to tie the score in quick succession, but he curled over from the outside of the box and then missed from inside the box after a deft free-kick play. But none of those opportunities came close to the three that Portugal was able to capitalize on in the closing 10 minutes. First, Ronaldo had to match Ronaldo’s low effort when the 37-year-old went through one-on-one and Bono pushed over Felix’s rasping drive toward the top corner.

Also Read: Argentina stun Netherlands in a dramatic penalty shootout win by (3-4 on pens) and set up Croatia in semi

En-Nesyri stuns Portugal

Morocco book historic World Cup semi-final place as En-Nesyri stuns Portugal

Zakaria Aboukhlal’s awkward chip was easily saved by Costa as Morocco came close to scoring again. At the other end, Pepe had an even better chance but headed over from inside the six-yard box from Rafael Leao’s cross. While Ronaldo promptly marched off the field in tears in what is likely to be his final World Cup appearance, the full-time whistle ignited joyous celebrations from the Moroccan players and their throngs of fans in the seats.

Pepe, a defender for Portugal, criticized the choice of Argentine referee Tello after Argentina players complained about the officials and extra time after their quarterfinal victory against the Netherlands on Friday. After 11 minutes of stoppage time, Argentina gave up an equalizer to force extra time. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and captain Lionel Messi both criticized the referee, alleging that Antonio Mateu Lahoz wanted the Netherlands to score.

Also Read: Morocco 0-0 Spain, Morocco win 3-0 on penalties

Pepe claims that with Argentina still in the competition, the nomination of Tello for this game should not have been permitted. We gave up an unexpected goal, but I’m going to say it anyhow. Pepe declared that it was unacceptable for an Argentine referee to oversee our match. “After what happened yesterday, Messi and Argentina as a whole were discussing, and the referee showed up. How did we perform in the second half? The goalkeeper was continually falling to the ground. Only eight minutes were allotted for pause. We put in a lot of effort, but the referee only granted us eight minutes.

The second half was entirely silent from our side. We were the only football squad playing. We’re down. We were capable of winning the World Cup, but we fell short. Our athletes are upset, “Fernando Santos, Portugal’s head coach, responded to inquiries about his future by saying that he didn’t regret benching Ronaldo. Great player Cristiano entered the game when we felt it was important. But no, there are none. Goalkeeper Bono of Morocco stated in the meantime: “Pull my hand, I’m dreaming. Morocco is prepared to take on any opponent. The next generation’s mindset has been altered by us. They will be aware of Moroccan players’ miraculous abilities.

Also Read: France 3-1 Poland in the last-16 clash

Sofyan Amrabat declares Player of the Match

Sofyan Amrabat declares Player of the Match 

Morocco’s metronome Sofyan Amrabat only touched the ball 32 times during the entire 90 minutes due to Portugal’s dominance in possession. But on the few occasions when he did receive the ball, the midfielder performed incredible things and helped Morocco’s defense by releasing pressure. Amrabat demonstrated his ability to move the ball forward by making three tackles and eight ball recoveries while also twice penetrating the final third and producing a clear-cut opportunity. Simply put, Amrabat was all over the place for Morocco and has a strong case for winning Player of the Tournament.

Also Read: Portugal 6-1 Switzerland, as Goncalo Ramos nets hat-trick

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