Morocco has knocked out Spain with a 3-0 scoreline following a penalty shootout to reach the 2022 World Cup quarterfinals after playing to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday.
Spain dominated possession in the first half but could not find a way past a resolute Morocco defence.
The best chance of the half came when Morocco defender, Nayef Aguerd, headed over from close range.
The 2010 World Cup champions remained dominant but could not find a breakthrough inside 90 minutes, sending the game to extra time. Morocco enjoyed the better chances as they squandered a pair of one-on-one and, with the scores still level, a penalty shootout was required.
The pattern of the game was established from the first whistle, Spain dominated possession but struggled to find a way through a disciplined Morocco backline.
Luis Enrique’s side had almost 70 percent of the ball in the first 45 minutes but went no closer than Marco Asensio’s shot into the side-netting, with Gavi and Ferran Torres both denied in the same move by spectacular blocks, although the offside flag was already up.
Morocco’s gameplan was clearly to soak up pressure and try to hit the Spanish on the break, Noussair Mazraoui’s fierce shot from range stinging the palms of Unai Simon, before Nayef Aguerd, unmarked at the far post, headed over a golden chance created by the trickery of Sofiane Boufal.
The same pattern continued into the second period, Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou reacting smartly to push away Dani Olmo free-kicks at either end of the half, while Alvaro Morata fizzed a shot across the face of the goal shortly after his introduction.
Morocco had the two best chances of the first period of extra time, Cheddira first being denied by Aymeric Laporte’s challenge and then the right leg of Simon, but it was the African side’s superb defending at the other end that proved crucial.
The times were divided in experience — it was Morocco’s first shootout at a World Cup finals and Spain’s fifth — but the North African side claimed a 3-0 victory on penalties to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time, where they face the winner of Portugal and Switzerland, who play later on Tuesday.