Doha (Qatar) : A resilient Morocco shocked a bungling Spain 3-0 in a FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match decided via a penalty shootout here on Tuesday.
With the surprising victory, Morocco became the only African and Arab nation to reach the quarterfinals in Qatar.
Spanish team members and fans were devastated at the end of the shootout at the Education City Stadium in the Qatari capital when their team failed to convert even one shot from the spot — Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou saved efforts by Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets while Pablo Sarabia struck the post.
In contrast, Abdelhamid Sabiri and Hakim Ziyech scored theirs and though Badr Benoun was thwarted by Unai Simon, Achraf Hakimi sealed a maiden entry in the World Cup quarterfinals for Morocco when he sent Spain’s keeper the wrong way.
Spain, the 2010 champions became another major European casualty after Belgium and Germany crashed out, with the former succumbing to Morocco in a Group stage match.
Both teams took several shots at the goal during regulation time but were unable to make a dent in the scoreboard.
The Spaniards raised the pressure to a peak on the Moroccan defence around the 80th minute when two attempts closely missed the net.
Both halves of extra time show Spain dominating Morocco but they were unable to breach the latter’s red defence wall.
Morocco coach Walid Regragui’s men have been on a nine-game unbeaten run including this match and have received accolades for their team spirit.
Morocco will take on the winner of the Portugal-Switzerland game being played tonight. It will be the last Round of 16 match at the tournament.