Morocco 0-0 Spain (AET, 3-0 Penalties): The Atlas Lions Maul Spain To Storm The Last Eight.

Morocco 0-0 Spain: An attempt by Spain to advance to their first World Cup quarterfinals since 2010 was frustrated and unsuccessful as they lost to Morocco on penalties after missing all of their attempts.

After dominating for 120 minutes without scoring and accumulating 1019 passes, Luis Enrique’s team lost in the penalty shootout thanks to saves from Yassine Bounou on Pablo Sarabia, Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets.

Madrid-born Achraf Hakimi had the chance to win it, and he did so with a Panenka to advance Morocco to the last eight for the first time.

The Spaniards were left looking perplexed and undoubtedly doubting their strategy as Morocco and their noisy supporters jubilantly celebrated.

La Roja had about 77 percent of the ball over the course of the 120 minutes, but only one shot on goal was produced. The closest they came to scoring in the first was after 26 minutes when Jordi Alba lifted the ball over the opposition for Marco Asensio, who was positioned as a false nine but missed the target.

When Morocco did advance, they did so deliberately, with left winger Sofiane Boufal causing Marcos Llorente, their temporary right-back, a miserable evening.

The greatest opportunity for the Atlas Lions in the first half was created by Boufal, who outran Llorente and crossed for Nayef Aguerd, who could only head the ball over from six yards away. Similar play continued in the second half, albeit Morocco’s counterattack were less common.

Luis Enrique brought on Alvaro Morata and Nico Williams in an effort to revive his attack. The latter’s cross cum shot nearly paid off, but it flashed across the face of the goal.

Bounou was forced into significant action when Dani Olmo’s inswinging free-kick missed everyone and required the Moroccan goalkeeper to dive to his left to palm the ball away to safety.

Minutes later, Unai Simon was forced into action. After some deft work from Azzedine Ounahi, he made a stop with his feet to block a low effort from Walid Cheddira.

Pablo Sarabia nearly stole the win for Spain with the final kick but his volley hit the outside of the post. It a night to remember for Moroccan keeper Bounou.

Risk-averse Spain falters

Spain maintained their values throughout, although having a backup plan would have been helpful. They played too cautiously and risk-aversely overall.

Morocco was rarely in danger due to insufficient penetration and excessive sideways passing.

La Roja’s strategies were completely successful for the North African nation who were content to play for penalties while keeping their distance.

Boufal’s genius wrecks chaos.

The Angers’ winger caused chaos, especially in the first half. He completed five dribbles in the first half, more than anyone else on the field.

The prevailing trend of taking the simple pass was starkly contrasted by his eargerness to run with the ball. He would have also contributed to the first goal if he hadn’t flubbed his lines from close range.

Key Opta Stats

  • Morocco are the fourth side to reach the quarter-final of a World Cup after Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.
  • Spain have been eliminated in three of their last four games in the last 16 at the World Cup, losing on penalties at this stage in each of the last two editions.
  • Morocco are the first African nation to win a penalty shoot-out at the World Cup.
  • Spain have become the first nation in the World Cup history to lose four penalty shoot-outs, and just the second side to not score in one (after Switzerland vs Ukraine in 2006)