Morocco Miracle Against Spain in the Round of 16, Spain-Born Achraf Hakimi’s Panenka Downed La Roja

With favourites in the past six last 16 stage matches advancing to the next round, an upset was on the cards for the final two matches of the first knockout round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Morocco versus Spain was indeed a larger match than Portugal against Switzerland because the two countries were closely related in the past, with Moorish sultans ruling in the Spanish territory for approximately eight centuries. Much like the USA-Iran clash in Group B, the Morocco-Spain match was politically-charged, in which the outcome went the Moroccans’ way.

La Roja Could Not Find the Back of the Net, Not Even During Penalties

Morocco’s and Spain’s efforts on goal were not productive; They had 19 shots in total (The Atlas Lions had 6 while La Roja managed 13) but both goalkeepers had little to do in the 120 minutes played as only three of those attempts were fired at them (2 for Morocco and 1 for Spain). That meant only a host of penalty kicks will decide which team goes to the last eight of the tournament.

Aware of England’s penalty shoot-out incident against Italy in the UEFA European Championship Final last year, Luis Enrique knew youngsters of his La Roja side might not be able to handle the pressure a shoot-out brings upon. But all of his first three takers, including the captain, Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets and Paris Saint-Germain’s Pablo Sarabia had their attempts saved by the Moroccan shot stopper Yassine Bounou. The Atlas Lions made full use of Spain’s missed shots and converted three of their four tries to beat La Roja 3-0 on penalties. The last spot kick of Morocco’s was scored by former Real Madrid man Achraf Hakimi, in which the Spain-born star tricked the Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simón with a Panenka.

Spain’s Amazing Start to the 2022 FIFA World Cup Ended Harshly

La Roja began the tournament with a 7-0 crushing victory over Costa Rica in Group F, but the 2010 FIFA World Cup champion and the 2008 as well as 2012 UEFA Euro champions could not register another win in their next three matches after the win. A draw against the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion, Germany and an upset by the Japanese meant Spain avoided Croatia and Brazil in their half of knockout rounds, but they were unable to penetrate through the Moroccan defence despite having two times more shots than their opponent. Spain’s failure meant we will only see six of the world’s top-ten ranked teams in the quarterfinal of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with Morocco being the only nation with a world ranking outside the best 15 teams in the globe.

Did you know that five-time former world champion Brazil scored four goals in the first half of a World Cup match for the second time in history against South Korea? We have all the information of the game for you: 

(Photo Credits: Goal)

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