En-Nesyri’s goal allows the ‘Atlas Lions’ to reach the semifinals of a World Cup for the first time in their history
MADRID, Dec. 10 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The Moroccan team surprised Portugal again after winning (1-0) this Saturday, thanks to the solitary goal by Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri, to get through to the semifinals of a World Cup for the first time, after a game frantic that Fernando Santos’ men could not send it to extra time and that left Cristiano Ronaldo without his last chance to win the World Cup title.
With this victory, the ‘Atlas Lions’ wrote their name in gold letters in the history of African football, becoming the first team from the continent to be among the four best in the world. Thus, the solitary goal from the Sevilla attacker was enough for Walid Regragui’s men to present their candidacy for the title.
Fernando Santos again opted for a starting eleven without Cristiano Ronaldo, as happened in the round of 16 against Switzerland (6-1). The great Portuguese captain and hero saw the Moroccan goal from the bench and although he came to the rescue of his team in the second half, he could not avoid elimination, from what, predictably, was his last World Cup appointment. Now, the Moroccans expect a rival in the semifinals of this Saturday’s game between France and England (8:00 p.m.).
The Portuguese opted for a vertical game from the beginning, with the intention of dismantling a well-armed and very compact Moroccan defense. Fernando Santos’s men went for the match, and were even able to find their prize before the first five minutes with Joao Felix’s header, which Bono cleared after a good save.
However, Walid Regragui’s men opted for the same type of game that gave them such good results against Spain, withdrawing into their own field and throwing to their laners every time the Portuguese lost the ball. Thus, Ziyech had a couple of dangerous approaches and at times they came to subdue the Portuguese who, thick in the midfield, did not quite find their reference players in attack.
The African team deserved it and finally the first goal of the match was born from En-Nesyri’s head. The Sevilla attacker took advantage of a lateral cross, which the Portuguese goalkeeper did not measure well, to put his team ahead and put the match back on track. The Portuguese took the blow well and wanted to react, but the crossbar prevented Bruno Fernandes from converting his lateral cross into one of the championship goals.
Frantic end of the first part that, at times, seemed to continue at the start of the second. Knowing the need for a goal to calm things down, Fernando Santos decided to move the bench and give way to Joao Cancelo and his top scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo. With greater depth on the wings, now yes, the Portuguese began to reach the rival goal with more regularity.
Devoted to the opposite field, Fernando Santos’ men brought out their entire offensive repertoire, but even so, the Moroccan defense continued without showing signs of fatigue, impassive in the face of the barrage of Portuguese chances. Joao Felix had the best on his boots, but a sensational stretch from Bono prevented the match. Even Pepe had it in his head to send the game to extra time that, to the detriment of the Portuguese, eluded them at the last breath.
–RESULT: MOROCCO, 1 – PORTUGAL, 0 (1-0, at halftime).
MOROCCO: Bond; Achraf Hakimi, Romain Saiss (Dari, min.57), Jawad El Yamiq, Y. Attiat-Allah; Sofyan Amrabat, Azzedine Ounahi, Selim Amallah (Chedira, min.65); Hakim Ziyech (Aboukhlal, min.82), Youssef En-Nesyri (Benoun, min.65) and Sofiane Boufal (Jabrane, min.82).
PORTUGAL: Diogo Costa; Diogo Dalot (Horta, min.79), Ruben Dias, Pepe, Raphaël Guerreiro (Cancelo, min.51); Ruben Neves (Cristiano Ronaldo, min.51), Otavio (Vitinha, min.69), Bernardo Silva; Bruno Fernandes, Goncalo Ramos (Leao, min.69) and João Felix.
0-1, min.42: En-Nesyri.
–REFEREE: Facundo Tello (ARG). He admonished Dari (min.70) and sent off Cheddira (min.93) for Morocco, and Vitinha (min.87), for Portugal.
–STADIUM: Al Zumama.