Morocco secured a miraculous win over Spain in the 2022 FIFA World Cup to advance to the quarter-finals. They defeated La Roja 3-0 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes.
Morocco entered this as surprise winners of Group F, earning seven points from their three games. They were one of the five teams to remain unbeaten after the group stages. They were looking to put in a strong performance having pipped Belgium to qualify for the knockouts.
Spain, on the other hand, finished as runners-up in group E. They earned four points from their three games and only finished ahead of Germany by virtue of a superior goal difference. Luis Enrique fielded a strong lineup as La Roja looked to progress to the quarters.
Spain made a good start to the game and dominated possession in the first half, as expected. However, despite keeping the ball for extended periods of time, they were unable to create effective chances. They attempted just one shot in the first period and it was off-target.
Morocco, on the other hand, made good use of their 31% of the ball. They attempted three shots, hitting the target once, bringing Unai Simon into action. Defenders and midfielders from both sides played well, barely allowing their opponents a chance to score.
After a tense half of football, Spain and Morocco were deadlocked at 0-0 at half-time.
It was all Spain to begin the second period as they looked to keep the ball long enough to make Morocco chase the game. They kept upwards of 80% possession, allowing them to control the tempo of the game. Both managers turned to their benches as the game became increasingly cagey towards the end of the 90 minutes.
Spain and Morocco created a combined xG of 0.9 in 90 minutes of play as the score remained 0-0. The game was to be decided after extra time.
Both Morocco and Spain played a cautious brand of football in the second period as they looked to hold on and not lose the game at the death. This resulted in very few chances for either side as the scores remained level after 120 minutes. The game was to be decided with a penalty shootout.
Spain were awful from the spot as they missed all three of their penalty kicks. Pablo Sarabia, Carlos Soler, and Sergio Busquets all missed, giving Morocco the perfect chance to progress. Despite missing one spot-kick, the Atlas Lions converted three to progress.
On that note, let's take a look at the five talking points from the game.
#5. Morocco looked tired in the second half after chasing the game
Spain dominated possession throughout the 90 minutes of regular time. They kept the ball for 69% of the time in the first half and increased that to 81% in the second period. However, they hit the target just once despite dominating possession. Morocco, on the other hand, hit the target just once as well.
Having kept three clean sheets in the group stage, Morocco looked tired entering the second half of this game. This is probably due to the amount of effort every player has put in towards helping their team make it this far.
#4. Spain kept meaningless possession of the ball
If a team keeps two-thirds or even three-fourths of the ball over the course of an entire game, anybody would expect them to at least score one goal, if not win the game. However, La Roja failed to do both as they struggled to make good of their dominance with the ball.
They hit the target just once throughout the game and that shot did not test Bono sufficiently as he made an easy save. None of their sideways passes or combinations in their own half were effective in this game.
#3. Morocco needed to be more clinical
Despite not having the ball much, Morocco were handed a couple of chances to score throughout the game. Spain looked sharp in defense but did make the occasional error, allowing the Moroccans to break forward.
They had a few golden chances with players either one-on-one with the 'keeper or with one player alongside them. However, the players shot their attempts straight at the goalkeeper or did not take any shots at all.
#2. Spain have been notorious for taking knockout games to extra time
With this game going to extra time and then penalties, it makes it the fifth consecutive knockouts game for La Roja that has gone to extra time.
They were taken to extra time and then penalties in the UEFA Euro 2020, with Italy winning the shootout 4-2, before going on to lift the cup. In the last edition of the World Cup, La Roja were taken to extra time and then penalties by hosts Russia, who eventually won the shootout 4-3.
#1. Achraf Hakimi scores the winning penalty to send the Atlas Lions through
The seventh round of 16 game at the 2022 FIFA World Cup was decided by a penalty shootout. Both sides geared up for a shootout but only one team looked prepared.
Spain missed all three penalties, while the Atlas Lions scored three of their four attempts to secure progression. Goalkeeper Bono was the star as he made two saves, while Hakimi scored the winning penalty for his nation.