It took to the final day of the Round of 16, but we finally had one surprise result, with Morocco eliminating Spain to set up a quarterfinal matchup against Portugal, who brushed aside Switzerland with ease.
Spain began the World Cup with a most impressive 7-0 pillaging of Costa Rica, but they failed to record a victory in their three subsequent games, settling for a draw against Germany, allowing a comeback win for Japan, and, today, failing to break down a solid Morocco side, who ended up prevailing in a penalty kick shootout after 120 scoreless minutes.
The plan to counteract Spain’s tiki-taka wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but Morocco executed it well enough to earn their place in the next round. It’s the furthest they’ve ever made it at a World Cup, and are the first African side in the quarterfinals since Ghana in 2010 — the fourth overall joining Cameroon (1990) and Senegal (2002) as well.
Hakim Ziyech played the full-120 and converted his kick in the shootout as well. Sevilla goalkeeper Bono made two saves before Achraf Hakimi won it with a classic Panenka. Spain went 0-for-3 in their attempts, which is just sad, especially as César Azpilicueta didn’t get any minutes today.
Achraf Hakimi, panenka to win the game! Incredible Hakimi, incredible Morocco, incredible atmosphere!! pic.twitter.com/PjtUVOkVgs— Julien Laurens (@LaurensJulien) December 6, 2022
There was far less drama in the second game today, with Portugal easily brushing aside Switzerland, for whom Denis Zakaria played a little over 30 minutes.
Portugal looked quite good in fact after dropping Cristiano Ronaldo and giving the start to young Gonçalo Ramos instead. The 21-year-old Benfica striker took all of 17 minutes to score his second ever international goal, starting Portugal on their way to a 6-1 victory.
Ramos made his a brace early in the second and completed his hat-trick halfway through the second half. It was 5-1 by then, with defenders Pepe and Raphaël Guerreiro also on the scoresheet. Manual Akanji had gotten Switzerland on the board off a corner as well. Rafael Leão added a sixth for good measure.