Morocco and Portugal secured the last spots for the quarterfinals with victories over Spain and Switzerland respectively. They will meet on December 10th to determine who will make it to the semi-finals.
It was a gruelling match for Morocco as they tried and failed to break the 0-0 deadlock in 120 minutes. In the first few minutes of the game, Spain dominated possession and nearly took the lead in the 27th minute but Marco Asensio’s shot ended up going wide of the left post.
Morocco had a golden chance to take the lead near the end of the first-half when Morocco’s Nayef Aguerd unleashed a cross range header only for it to end up over the crossbar.
Throughout the second half, both Morocco and Spain had plenty of opportunities but both sides were unable to convert and by the end of 120 minutes, the game went to penalties. It was Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou who was the standout hero during the shoot-out as he made three saves. Achraf Hakimi scored Morocco’s 3rd penalty and secured his team a first ever appearance in the World Cup Quarter Finals.
In the Portugal and Switzerland match, Portugal raced out of the blocks and took the lead when Goncalo Ramos scored a brilliant opener in the 17th minute. A highly impressive goal given that Ramos only had 35 minutes of international experience before this match.
Switzerland had a chance to equalizer when they got a free-kick but Xherdan Shaqiri’s shot ended up wide from the bottom corner of the goal.
In the 33rd minute, Portuguese veteran Pepe headed the second goal for his team and became the second-oldest World Cup goal scorer after Roger Milla.
Portugal continued a relentless attack at the start of the second-half. Goncalo Ramos got his second and Portugal’s third goal in the 51st minute and Raphael Guerriero got on the score sheet for Portugal’s4th goal.
Switzerland got a consolation goal when Manuel Akanji scored in the 58th minute but the Portuguese were not done. Goncalo Ramos completed his hattrick in the 67th minute to become the only player at this World Cup with a hattrick. Ramos was given a standing ovation when he was substituted off for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portugal finished the match in style as Rafael Leao scored their 6th goal in additional time. Will Portugal’s rampant attack get past the tough Moroccan defence? Or will Morocco become the first African nation to qualify for the semi-finals? We shall find out on December 10th.