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Bounou the shootout hero for Morocco against Spain, historic World Cup quarter-final slot sealed

22:13 GMT+4 06/12/2022
Yassine Bounou saves a penalty.
Yassine Bounou saved two penalties for Morocco as they sealed a maiden World Cup quarter-final place following a shootout victory over Spain.
  • Morocco make the quarter-final for the first time in their history
  • Bounou saved two penalties during the tense shootout
  • The Atlas Lions put up an impressive defensive performance

WHAT HAPPENED? The Atlas Lions held their own against Spain to keep the 2010 world champions at bay for 90 minutes, forcing the game into extra time.

The contest was still not settled after the extra 30 minutes where both teams had glorious opportunities to win before the shootouts ensued. With Abdelhamid Sabiri, Hakim Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi scoring their penalties, Bounou saved from Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets while Pablo Sarabia hit the post.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Morocco coach Walid Regragui went with a more defensive 4-1-4-1 formation in an effort to contain Spain who dominated position and his charges took on board the instructions, frustrating their opponents for 90 minutes.

The North Africans opted to sit back and soak in the pressure while waiting for their moments to launch counter-attacks and the tactic worked in the first half when they were the better side, managing one shot on target through Noussair Mazraoui, while their opponents had none.

Spain upped the ante after the break in an effort to get back in the game but good defending and the heroics of Bounou kept Morocco in the game.

ALL EYES ON: Hakim Ziyech has been impressive for Morocco in the tournament but had little room to create given his team were on the back foot for most of the contest. The Chelsea winger had to do a lot of defending to keep away danger but he came up with the goods when it mattered in the shootout.

THE VERDICT: Morocco proved once again that they have the quality to match one of the world’s best, having kept Croatia quiet while beating Belgium and their performance will give them plenty of confidence heading into the last eight.

WHAT’S NEXT? Morocco will take on either Portugal or Switzerland in the quarter-finals.