Morocco shocks Belgium to win the much-anticipated World Cup

Nov 29, 2022

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QATAR – In a scorching heat on Sunday, Morocco defeated Belgium 2 to 0 with goals from Romain Saiss and substitute Zakaria Aboukhlal to win their first World Cup match in 24 years.

Sabiri curled a wide free kick past Thibaut Courtois during the World Cup encounter at the Al Thumama Stadium. Aboukhlal then scored in extra time to give Morocco a four-point lead over Belgium in Group F. The Moroccan fans gave the game a vintage World Cup vibe.

Since defeating Scotland in 1998, Morocco have not triumphed at a World Cup. They finished the 2018 competition with just one point.

With these players and these supporters, anything is possible, according to Morocco coach Walid Regregui, whose squad hasn’t given up a goal in five games since he took over in September. “We played against one of the top teams in the world with huge players, but we know that if you don’t give 100%, it is hard to win,” he added.

The squad that finished third in 2018 and moved to second in the world rankings, Belgium, which had just edged out a 1 to 0 victory against Canada in their opening match, once again appeared to be a shell of its former self. To face Croatia in the round of 16, they must now compete.

The Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said, “It’s a difficult outcome. We couldn’t get our game going. It’s a game we need to understand; we need to be united and react. That’s what happens in the World Cup.

Romelu Lukaku was brought on for the final 10 minutes despite having a hamstring injury due to the Red Devils’ poor performance, forcing Martinez to make a last-ditch effort to save a point.

Later on, Sunday, in the second Group F game, Croatia, who has a point from their draw with Morocco, takes on Canada.

In a spirited beginning, Morocco appeared content to wait amid the deafening whistles of their supporters, but periods of aggressive pressing resulted in a few frightening counterattacks, with Ziyech the biggest threat.

OVER BOILED

Morocco appeared secure as Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne battled to find his range and Eden Hazard was mainly ineffectual.

On the cusp of halftime, Ziyech sent a free kick into the crowd, and it bounced past the keeper at the near post, beating Courtois for the first time in the tournament.

However, Saiss was slightly offside, and after a VAR review, referee Carlos Ramos disallowed the goal because the Besiktas defender was blocking Courtois’ line of sight.

After the break, Sofiane Boufal’s shot from just inside the box went just wide as Morocco began to fancy their chances and increase their offensive intensity.

Because Amadou Onana and Eden Hazard weren’t performing well, Martinez substituted Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens for them.

Yassine Bounou’s replacement, El Kajoui, who took over minutes before kickoff, was immediately impacted by Mertens, who used a strong shot to force El Kajoui into an incredible save.

Courtois was only able to fumble the ball into the net when substitute Abdelhamid Sabiri from Morocco sent in an angled free kick that was like the one that resulted in the first half’s disallowed goal.

Saiss, who was eventually given credit for getting a touch to score the goal, was also in the way but this time was inside.

Two minutes into stoppage time, with the stadium on fire, Morocco found another opening after putting up a valiant fight. Aboukhlal clipped Ziyech’s cross into the roof of the net.

With a sea of Moroccan flags in the background, several players kneeled down and bowed their heads in prayer while others waved Saudi and Palestinian flags in support of all Arab nations.

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