La Roja missed all three of their penalties in the shoot-out as the North Africans made it to the quarter-finals for the first time.
- Asensio and Aguerd missed good chances for either side in the first half
- Morocco were playing their first World Cup knock-out game since 1986
- Sarabia hit the post in the last minute of extra time
Morocco 0-0 Spain (3-1 penalties)
Morocco made it to the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup™ for the first time after holding their nerve in the penalty shoot-out while Spain lost theirs.
Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou played a pivotal role after a goalless 120 minutes, saving penalties from Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets after Pablo Sarabia had struck the post.
Abdelhamid Sabiri and Hakim Ziyech scored theirs but Badr Benoun was thwarted by Unai Simon, meaning Morocco had to wait a moment longer to confirm their victory, finally celebrating when Achraf Hakimi sent the Spain ‘keeper the wrong way.
It was a familiar story for Spain, who dominated possession but struggled to carve out many chances. In fact, they had only one effort in the first half, their lowest shot count in a World Cup match since 1966. It fell to Marco Asensio, who got in behind the defence but dragged his shot wide of the near post.
Morocco pressed Spain smartly and had three decent chances, the clearest being a free header for Nayef Aguerd which narrowly missed the target. The match remained tense and tight until the final few minutes of normal time, in which Bounou tipped away a skidding free-kick from Dani Olmo and Abde Ezzalzouli almost caught out Simon in possession.
A similar script followed in extra time when Morocco had two more glorious chances, both falling to Walid Cheddira. First the substitute failed to get his shot away and was dispossessed by Aymeric Laporte, then he did manage to fire at goal but was thwarted by Simon’s right leg.
Substitute Sarabia had a glorious chance to win the match with practically the last kick. The ball fell to him inches from goal at the far post but, from a difficult angle, he hit the far post. That gave Morocco a sense that this was their night, and so it proved.
Spain have exited their last three major competitions on penalties, losing to Russia at the 2018 World Cup and to Italy at UEFA EURO 2020.
Player of the match
Yassine Bounou (Morocco)