FIFA: Morocco became the first African country to reach the World Cup semi-finals with a 1-0 victory over Portugal on Saturday at Al Thumama Stadium, thanks to Youssef En-first-half Nesyri’s goal.
Morocco has surpassed Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002), and Ghana (2010) as the only African teams to reach the quarter-finals.
The Atlas Lions, the first Arab team to reach the quarterfinals, added Portugal to their list of European victims with a tenacious second-half performance.
Cristiano Ronaldo has most likely played his final World Cup match after coming on as a second-half substitute and failing to score his first knockout-phase goal of the tournament.
Morocco took the lead in the 42nd minute thanks to En-header Nesyri’s as they came on strong late in the first period.
🏅Morocco’s goalie Bono was crowned the official Man of the Match.
🌟Bono gave his MOTM award to Youssef En-Nesyri whose goal ensured Morocco beat Portugal.
— FIFA World Cup Stats (@alimo_philip) December 10, 2022
Portugal heaped on the pressure after the break, but Morocco held on despite being reduced to 10 men in added time, despite being without three of their four first-choice defenders after skipper Romain Saiss was forced off.
The North Africans were undoubtedly helped by the partisan crowd, but Portugal failed to generate many clear-cut chances as they lost a World Cup quarter-final for the first time.
Five-time Winner of the Ballon d’Or Coach Fernando Santos brought on Ronaldo early in the second half, but he couldn’t save the Euro 2016 champions.
Instead, it was another memorable day for Morocco, who had previously upset Belgium and Spain on penalties in Qatar.
Walid Regragui’s men will face either England or holders France in the semi-finals on Wednesday at Al Bayt Stadium.
Morocco will believe they can beat either of those teams, despite having only conceded once in this World Cup.