Morocco became the first African nation in the tournament’s history to reach the World Cup semi-final rounds following the 1-0 win over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
Youssef En-Neysri’s header — out-jumping Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa –made the difference in the 1-0 result as Morocco now gets set for a matchup with the defending champs, France.
“Pinch me, I’m dreaming,” Morocco’s goalkeeper, Bono, said. “Morocco is ready to face anyone in the world. We have changed the mentality of the generation coming after us. They’ll know Moroccan players can create miracles.”
Yassin Bounou — often referred to as Bono — won the Man of the Match award, and presented the award to his teammate En-Nesyri, who scored the winning goal.
Here were En-Nesyri’s numbers against Portugal: 100% ground duels won; 13 touches; 2-of-3 aerial duels won; 1 shot on target; 1 goal.
En-Nesyri is the first Moroccan to score three World Cup goals for his career (2018, 2022).
Morocco’s defense once again kept a clean sheet, so far only allowing one goal in the World Cup. That one goal was a an own-goal against Canada.
They have now defeated Belgium, Spain and Portugal on their way to the semifinals. Morocco shut down Portugal side that scored six goals against Switzerland; they took down a Spain team that scored seven against Costa Rica.
“We feel very happy at the moment — the first African team to be in the semifinal,” Morocco’s Bilal El Khannouss said. “We did it for Africa and all the Moroccan people. It was a very difficult game. We knew that. We fought for each ball and we are very happy with the win, and it’s very important for us and for the future.”
Ronaldo again came off the bench in the second half.
“I think this was a team which played very well against Switzerland,” Portugal manager Fernando Santos said. “Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, he came in when we thought it was necessary, so no regrets.”
Morocco now has the second-longest unbeaten streak in all competitions with 10 straight unbeaten results.
En-Nesyri has now scored Morocco’s only two headers in World Cup history (2018, 2022).
Morocco lost the possession battle 73-27, but somehow keep beating the odds match-in, match-out; they had a 35:1 odds in Vegas to make the semi-final, the seventh-longest odds in the field.
Morocco was absolutely phenomenal defending in their box. The stayed organized, despite having to finish the match playing 10 vs 11 thanks to a red card handed to Walid Cheddira (back-to-back yellow cards).
The winner of France-Morocco semifinal matchup will face the winner of the Argentina-Croatia match in the 2022 World Cup final.