Morocco on Tuesday became the first Arab nation and only the fourth African nation to advance to the World Cup quarterfinals, beating Spain 3-0 in a penalty shootout. Achraf Hakimi, who was born in Madrid and previously played for Real Madrid, converted the deciding penalty in the shootout. Abdelhamid Sabiri and Hakim Ziyech, who returned to the national team after a dispute with the previous coach, also scored for Morocco, the AP reports. Pablo Sarabia, Carlos Soler, and Sergio Busquets missed their penalties for Spain, with Sarabia hitting the post and Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou stopping the other two. The teams drew 0-0 in regulation and extra time.
Sarabia had entered the match in the final minutes of extra time, apparently for the shootout. Spain goalkeeper Unai Simón stopped the penalty by Badr Banoun; Simón's counterpart who plays for Spanish club Sevilla. Morocco will next face Portugal or Switzerland. Morocco is also the only team from outside Europe or South America to make it to the final eight. The team made the round of 16 just once before, at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Moroccan fans significantly outnumbered—and were louder than—the Spaniards on Tuesday at Education City Stadium. The noise built gradually until it went beyond deafening, per the New York Times, as Morocco got closer to recording its best World Cup performance ever.
"We were unable to score ... so no matter how much we say that we deserved to win for the chances we created and for playing more in their area, it is not going to change anything," Simón said, per the AP. "The only thing left for us is to accept that we have been eliminated." Indeed, the Times writes of Spain: "For all its talent, for all its dominance of possession, it had rarely given the impression of knowing how to score over the previous two hours." Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana are the only other African nations to reach the World Cup quarterfinals. None of the three advanced to the semifinals.
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