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Morocco National Team Emerges As First African Team to Advance to the World Cup Semifinals

Moroccan National Team Celebrate As First African Team to Advance to the World Cup Semifinals in Qatar 2022

Youssef En-Nesyri’s first-half goal was the difference in Morocco’s nail-biting 1-0 win over Portugal on Saturday at Al Thumama Stadium, making them the first African team to advance to the World Cup semifinals.

With a determined second-half performance, the Atlas Lions, who are the first Arab team to reach the last four, defeated Portugal.

After coming on as a second-half substitute and failing to score his first knockout-phase goal at the tournament, Cristiano Ronaldo is likely done with the World Cup.

Moroccans seized the lead in the 42nd minute thanks to a header from En-Nesyri, who led a late surge for the African side.

Portugal piled up the pressure after the interval, but an injury-plagued Morocco, down to 10 men after losing their captain Romain Saiss, held on to earn a point.

Portugal’s first-ever World Cup quarter-final loss came despite the fact that they had a difficult time creating clear-cut chances and the partisan crowd assisted the North Africans over the line.

Five-time Winner of the Ballon d’Or With the score tied early in the second half, coach Fernando Santos substituted in Ronaldo, but even he could not save the 2016 European Champions.

Instead, Morocco made history once again, following their penalty shootout victories over Belgium and Spain in Qatar.

On Wednesday at Al Bayt Stadium, Walid Regragui’s team will meet either the English or the current champions France in the semi-finals.

Because they have only conceded once so far in this World Cup, Morocco will feel confident that they can defeat either of those teams.

In the first half, Portugal dominated possession, although the closest either team came to scoring was a diving header from Joao Felix in the fifth minute that was saved by goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.

Selim Amallah blasted a shot over the bar for Morocco, and Sofiane Boufal curled a shot straight at Diogo Costa, so the Africans remained a threat.

Strike From En-Nesyri


When Morocco finally took the lead just before halftime, it was hardly a shock.

Sevilla’s En-Nesyri scored after a cross from Yahya Attiat-Allah that Portuguese goalie Costa had no chance of reaching, and the Spaniard’s thunderous header put the game out of reach.

Seconds later, Portugal came close to an equalizer when Bruno Fernandes’s bouncing shot from the right side of the box smacked the crossbar.

Just before halftime, Attiat-Allah, who was filling in for the injured Noussair Mazraoui, blasted high and wide on another quick counterattack.

Fernandes went down under pressure from Achraf Hakimi, and Portugal’s teammates were still pleading for a penalty.

Four minutes after the resumption, Morocco nearly added to their lead when Costa barely blocked a free-kick from Hakim Ziyech on the right.

In the 51st minute, Santos quickly called in his captain, Ronaldo, and substituted Joao Cancelo for the rest of the team.

With injured defenders Mazraoui and Nayef Aguerd already sidelined, Saiss’s departure was a major setback for Morocco.

Portugal began to pressure the opposing goal, and Fernandes nearly tied the game with a shot that sailed just wide of the post from the edge of the box.

While Morocco were successfully containing Portugal, Bounou had to be at his best to deny Felix’s shot in the final eight minutes.

Portugal spent much of the eight minutes of stoppage time camped within the Moroccan half, and Ronaldo nearly won it with a low shot that was tipped away by Bounou.

Walid Cheddira, a replacement for Morocco, was unfairly sent off after receiving two yellow cards in the span of two minutes.

When in a perfect position to put the game away, Zakaria Aboukhlal instead dinked the ball right at Costa.

However, despite Pepe missing a game-winning shot from close range in the nick of time, his team held on to win and go down in history.

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