Morocco Makes World Cup History Advancing To Semifinals

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Morocco turned the primary African nation to achieve the World Cup semifinals by beating Portugal 1-0 on Saturday, probably ending Cristiano Ronaldo’s possibilities of ever successful soccer’s largest prize.

Youssef En-Nesyri scored the successful aim within the forty second minute to proceed Morocco’s unbelievable run that has generated an outpouring of satisfaction within the Arab world through the first World Cup to be staged within the Center East.

The 37-year-old Ronaldo, one among soccer’s best gamers, didn’t begin for the second straight recreation however got here on as an alternative within the 51st minute and missed an opportunity to equalize in stoppage time.

The five-time world participant of the yr is about to complete his profession with out capturing the World Cup or ever attending to the ultimate. He headed proper off the sphere after the ultimate whistle and was crying as he walked down the tunnel.

Morocco will play both France or England within the semifinals.

It’s a seminal second in World Cup historical past, with an African nation lastly advancing to the degrees usually solely reached by European or South American groups. Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010) all reached the quarterfinals however obtained no additional.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal seems to be dejected after the match.

NELSON ALMEIDA through Getty Pictures

And off the sphere, this Morocco squad — coached by French-born Walid Regragui and containing 14 gamers born overseas — is uniting the Arab world, inspiring shows in Arab id from followers in several international locations.

There’s no motive why Morocco can’t go all the best way to the title, both, after topping a gaggle that included second-ranked Belgium and fellow semifinalist Croatia and now taking down two of Europe’s heavyweights in Spain — after a penalty shootout within the spherical of 16 — and Portugal within the quarterfinals.

Morocco’s protection has but to concede a aim by an opposition participant at this yr’s World Cup — the one one it has allowed was an own-goal — and it stifled a Portugal staff which beat Switzerland 6-1 within the final 16 to thrust itself among the many favorites.

In a recreation performed to the backdrop of continuous whistles and jeers by Morocco’s passionate followers, the staff relied virtually completely on counterattacks and scored from one among them.

A cross was swung in from the left and En-Nesyri leapt between Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa and defender Ruben Dias to go into the empty internet.

Badr Benoun of Morocco celebrates victory.
Badr Benoun of Morocco celebrates victory.

Jeroen van den Berg/Soccrates Pictures through Getty Pictures

Ronaldo, who can be 41 by the point of the 2026 World Cup in america, Mexico and Canada, had been seeking to attain the semifinals for under the second time after 2006.

Strive as he may, he barely obtained a contact of the ball till stoppage time when he obtained in behind Morocco’s protection off a protracted ball ahead. His low shot was saved by goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, who hadn’t had an excessive amount of to do earlier than that time.

Substitute Walid Cheddira was proven a crimson card for Morocco in stoppage time for accumulating a second yellow card in as many minutes. Portugal heart again Pepe then headed broad from contained in the six-yard field.

Ronaldo fell to his knees in dejection. Whereas Lionel Messi can be within the semifinals with Argentina, the opposite soccer nice of this era received’t be.