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HomePost Match AnalysisSpain knocked out of World Cup by Morocco after a dramatic penalty...

Spain knocked out of World Cup by Morocco after a dramatic penalty shootout

In the World Cup round of 16, Morocco defeated Spain 3-0 in a penalty shootout following a scoreless draw, thanks mainly to Achraf Hakimi’s chipped winning penalty.

After 120 minutes, there was no way to separate the two teams. Spain’s three penalties—beautifully saved by goalie Yassine Bounou—were all missed.

Dani Olmo’s arrowed drive from the angle Bounou deflected away was the closest Luis Enrique’s team came to scoring. Later, the goalkeeper also did an outstanding job stopping Olmo’s dangerous free-kick.

Nayef Aguero missed with an unmarked header in the first half. Noussair Mazraoui’s long-range attempt, which Unai Simon collected, was the lone shot on goal for Morocco.

The game went into extra time because the teams couldn’t be separated. Substitute Walid Cheddira had Morocco’s finest opportunity, but he squandered it by shooting straight at Simon from eight yards out.

Spain nearly took the lead in the 123rd minute when Pablo Sarabia’s volley agonizingly missed the far post.

Morocco marches on as Spain’s campaign ends in misery

Morocco joins Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002), and Ghana (2010) as the only other African nations to go to the World Cup quarterfinals.

For the entire 120 minutes, their fans sang, chanted, and beat on drums as loud, piercing whistles rang out whenever Spain was on the ball.

And Sevilla goalkeeper Bounou appeared to feed off that energy, saving Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets’ attempts to score from the penalty spot while Sarabia hit the post.

As Morocco advanced into the quarterfinals, star player Hakimi displayed excellent composure under pressure by shooting his penalty, a “Panenka,” straight down the middle.

Morocco’s only other appearance in the round of 16 occurred in 1986. Still, they have gone five games without losing in the World Cup and kept a clean sheet in six of their last seven games overall.

Spain, the 2010 champions, had such a promising start as they thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening match, but their campaign ended in agony.

The favorites only had one shot on target out of their 1,019 passes as they attempted to pass Morocco into submission.

It is Spain’s second successive exit by penalties at the last-16 stage of a World Cup, having also lost to Russia in 2018.

Luis Enrique refuses to discuss Spain future after the World Cup exit

After Morocco eliminated Spain from the World Cup, Luis Enrique declined to say if he would continue as the country’s head coach.

He replied, “I can’t tell you. It’s inappropriate for me to discuss my future because your coworkers have already asked me.”

“I don’t know the answer because I don’t make the decision. My contract is about to expire, but I’m satisfied with the president, the federation, and the national team.”

Luis Enrique claimed before the game that he had urged his players to “take 1,000 penalties” a year ago in preparation for this tournament, following another shootout exit, to Russia in 2018.

Instead, he observed that all three kicks tried by his side were missed. “The justification is relatively simple. I decided on the shooters.”

When asked if he had any regrets, he responded. “They had the finest shooting, in my opinion. I would pick the same shooters if we had to select again.”

“I let them make a choice and allowed them complete discretion. Only the opposition goalkeeper would be changed if there was another penalty shootout.”

“They carried out every directive I gave them exactly. They carried out the strategy. But they were unable to score. It’s over now.”

“It serves no use to penalize the players. I have complete faith in my team. I’m sorry that some athletes couldn’t participate, including Pablo Sarabia, who was only used to shooting penalties.”

Morocco boss Walid Regragui highlights the importance of players from Morocco’s diaspora

In his post-match press conference, Moroccan coach Walid Regragui emphasized the value of players from Morocco’s diaspora, saying, “every Moroccan is Moroccan” after Morocco’s penalty shootout victory over Spain in the World Cup’s round of 16.

Regragui declared, “We received a lot of inquiries on players born in Europe vs. those born in Morocco before this World Cup.”

“Some individuals and journalists have said that these players don’t love Morocco and have questioned why they aren’t simply playing Moroccan guys.”

“We demonstrated to the world that every Moroccan is a Moroccan and wants to fight when he joins the national team. Even though I was born in France, nothing can separate my heart from my homeland.”

“Some of my players are from Germany, while others are from Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and France. That’s what I give to my players—my ambition. It shows you can have a Moroccan coach and do this. You need confidence.”

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