Qatar 2022: Morocco dumps Cristiana Ronaldo’s Portugal out of World Cup
… secure historic, semi-final berth
Moroccan national football team, the Atlas Lions continued their fairy tale run in the 2022 World Cup on Saturday as they beat Portugal 1-0 to qualify for the semi-final stage of the Mundial after a thrilling encounter at the Al Thumama Stadium.
Youssef En-Yesri’s towering header in the 42nd minute proved to be the tie-breaker as Morocco became the first African team ever to qualify for the semi-final of the World Cup.
Though Cristiano Ronaldo was brought in early in the second half, the 37-year-old was unable to rescue his team as his quest for the elusive World Cup trophy went up in flames yet again even though he achieved another record of the most-capped player
Portugal and Morocco enjoyed contrasting fortunes going into Saturday’s semi-final contest, with the former enjoying a thumping 6-1 win over Switzerland and the Lions squeezing through with a penalty shootout win over Spain.
It was the Portuguese who started on the front foot, coming close to breaking the deadlock just five minutes into the game.
A terrific ball in from the right flank was headed on target by a stooping Joao Felix, but Moroccan keeper Bono was equal to the task denying Portugal an early lead.
Morocco were quick to provide an instant response with a swift counter-attack with Hakim Ziyech’s delivering a cross to leaping En-Nesyri, who couldn’t keep the ball on target.
While Portugal dominated the possession, Morocco were contended with sitting back and launching occasional counterattacks.
As the clock ticked down in the first half, Morocco’s moment of magic came in the 42nd minute when En-Nesyri soared into the air, high above Ruben Dias, to head past Costa, who came out and was in no-man’s-land.
Bruno Fernandes almost provided an instant equaliser for Portugal, but his thunderous effort rattled the crossbar.
The second half offered a handful of chances for both sides with Ronaldo himself coming close to scoring but it was not to be as the Atlas Lions who finished with 10 men held on for a famous victory that has now taken them into the semi-final where they will face either France or England. By this feat, Morocco has made history within two worlds as the first African and Arab country to reach this stage in the global soccer fiesta.