Morocco continue to surprise: first African team in the semi-finals of the World Cup

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Portugal failed

Morocco became the first African side to advance to the semi-finals on their dream journey through the World Cup, sending Portugal home with Joker Cristiano Ronaldo. Thanks to a goal by Youssef En-Nesyri (42nd) at the Al-Thumama stadium in Doha, the « Atlas Lions » beat the former European champions 1-0 (1-0) on Saturday. Morocco finished the duel with ten men, Walid Cheddira, entered after a little over an hour, saw the yellow-red card in the eventful final phase (90 + 3).

Coach Walid Regragui’s team caused huge cheers not only among the 44,198 mostly Moroccan fans with the quarter-final triumph, but also across the African and Arab world. The Moroccans are now claiming the winner of the match between France, defending champion, and England, vice-champion of Europe, Wednesday (8:00 p.m.).

For the Portuguese, the best place in the World Cup is third place in 1966 with the legendary Eusébio. The first appearance in the quarter-finals of the World Cup since 2006 ended in bitter disappointment. This was especially true for superstar Ronaldo, who at 37 had to bury his last hope of winning the world title. After the striker was left out of the starting XI in the 6-1 win over Switzerland in the round of 16 for the first time since 2008, the captain had to return to the bench.



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He was replaced by 21-year-old Gonçalo Ramos, who scored a hat-trick on his World Cup debut. This time he remained pale. With Ronaldo’s arrival in the 51st minute, head coach Fernando Santos allowed the former world (Site notre bureau spécialisé)er to set at least one international record: with his 196th international match, Ronaldo equaled the world record set by the Kuwaiti Badr al-Mutawa. Ronaldo converted a penalty in the 3-2 win over Ghana at the start of the tournament and has now scored in five finals – a feat no player has ever managed before. However, Eusébio remains Portugal’s top scorer in the World Cup with nine goals.

The Morocco underdog entered the biggest game in their (Site notre bureau spécialisé) history to date with a severe handicap: defenders Noussair Mazraoui of FC Bayern and Nayef Aguerd of West Ham United had to sit out injured. The attrition against Spain in the previous round had left its mark. The North Africans, who had conceded only one goal in the last four World Cup matches, were visibly more aggressive against Portugal. They were almost 1-0 up after five minutes when goalkeeper Bono, the hero of the penalty shootout against Spain, managed to head João Félix away for a corner.

The Portuguese has also shown a lot of respect for the opponent, in which the right flank has notably made a name for itself with Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech and Paris Saint-Germain’s ex-Dortmunder Achraf Hakimi. Moreover, the Europeans had to listen to the shrill whistles of the Moroccan fans every time they touched the ball. A header from En-Nesyri (26th) misses the Portuguese goal, but testifies to the rise in offensive power of the Moroccans. Portugal’s back line around substitute captain Pepe, playing in his fourth World Cup at the age of 39, has always been challenged.

Will Messi make it to the top? Player with most World Cup appearances

1 Lothar Matthäus (25 games for Germany)

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As of December 9, 2022

2 Lionel Messi (24 games for Argentina)

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2 Miroslav Klose (24 games for Germany)

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4 Paolo Maldini (23 games for Italy)

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5 Uwe Seeler (21 games for Germany)

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5 Wladyslaw Zmuda (21 games for Poland)

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5 Diego Maradona (21 games for Argentina)

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5 Cristiano Ronaldo (21 games for Portugal)

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9 Bastian Schweinsteiger (20 games for Germany)

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9 Philipp Lahm (20 games for Germany)

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9 Cáfu (20 games for Brazil)

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9 Grzegorz Lato (20 games for Poland)

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9 Javier Mascherano (20 games for Argentina)

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14 Ronaldo (19 games for Brazil)

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14 Berti Vogts (19 games for Germany)

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14 Wolfgang Overath (19 games for Germany)

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14 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (19 games for Germany)

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14 Per Mertesacker (19 games for Germany)

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14 Rafael Marquez (19 games for Mexico)

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14 Manuel Neuer (19 games for Germany)

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14 Thomas Müller (19 games for Germany)

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22 Mario Kempes (18 games for Argentina)

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22 Sepp Maier (18 games for Germany)

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22 Franz Beckenbauer (18 games for Germany)

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22 Pierre Littbarski (18 games for Germany)

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22 Thomas Berthold (18 games for Germany)

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22 Claudio Taffarel (18 games for Brazil)

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22 Dunga (18 games for Brazil)

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22 Fabio Cannavaro (18 games for Italy)

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22 Gaetano Scirea (18 games for Italy)

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22 Antonio Cabrini (18 games for Italy)

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Ronaldo watched with an almost impassive face as João Félix’s goal threat burst through the other side again: His ball landed deflected on goal after a good half hour. But then the Africans struck: goalkeeper Diogo Costa passed a crossed ball and Sevilla’s powerful jumper En-Nesyri headed in to take the lead. Ronaldo made a face on the substitutes’ bench. Moments later, Morocco were lucky when a cross from Bruno Fernandes landed on the crossbar of Bono’s goal in what was now a thrilling game. It didn’t take long for Ronaldo to be cleared to play after the break. The Africans threw themselves into each tackle with passion to defend their lead as successive waves of Portuguese attacks rolled towards Bono’s goal.

A center shot from Fernandes whistled over the bar otherwise Morocco’s wall stood. Bono deflected a dangerous shot from João Félix over the bar and also foiled Ronaldo’s attempt at the start of eight minutes of added time. Zakaria Aboukhlal inadvertently missed the 2-0 (90+6) on the counterattack. In the end, the Moroccans still celebrated because Pepe moved away from the post shortly after.

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