World Cup 2022: Morocco knocks out Spain on penalty kicks to advance to quarterfinals

AL RAYYAN, QATAR - DECEMBER 06: Morocco players celebrate after their win in the penalty shoot out during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Morocco and Spain at Education City Stadium on December 06, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. (Photo by Hector Vivas - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Morocco players celebrate after eliminating Spain from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. (Photo by Hector Vivas - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou saved two of Spain's three penalties as Morocco pulled the upset of the 2022 World Cup knockout rounds in a penalty-kick win over the 2010 champions.

Achraf Hakimi calmly chipped the ball down the middle past a diving Unai Simón for the game-clinching penalty. The game went to penalty kicks after the two sides tied 0-0 in regulation and failed to score a goal in extra time.

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It’s the first time Morocco has ever made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. The Moroccans will play Saturday against the winner of Tuesday's match between Portugal and Switzerland.

Spain’s Pablo Sarabia came on near the end of extra time and grazed the post with the final chance of the match. He kicked first for Spain and bounced his shot off the right post.

Bounou, who plays for La Liga side Sevilla, then saved kicks by Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets. Hakimi, who was born and raised in Madrid, kicked fourth for the Moroccans and his goal won the game after Badr Benoun’s kick was saved by Simón.

None of the three Spain players’ penalties appeared to have any sizzle. It was almost like they were simply trying to pass the ball into the net and Bounou clearly realized it.

TOPSHOT - Morocco's defender #02 Achraf Hakimi (L) converts during the penalty shoot-out to win the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between Morocco and Spain at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on December 6, 2022. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP) (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)
Morocco's Achraf Hakimi converts during the penalty shoot-out to win the match against Spain on Dec. 6, 2022. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP via Getty Images)

Morocco has been one of the best stories of the tournament. It won Group F over Croatia and Belgium and has given up just one goal through the first four games of the tournament. And that came on an own-goal against Canada. Morocco has shut out all three of Croatia, Belgium and Spain.

Morocco is also the only country outside of Europe and South America to make the quarterfinals and the first African country to make the quarterfinals of the World Cup when Ghana won in 2010.

That 2010 World Cup final is also the last time Spain has won a knockout-round game in the World Cup. Spain failed to get out of its group in 2014 and has been eliminated in the Round of 16 in each of the past two World Cups. Four years ago, Spain was eliminated by Russia on penalty kicks.

Spain found itself playing Morocco on Tuesday after losing to Japan in the final round of the group games. Had Spain beaten Japan, it would have faced Croatia on Monday. But you have to win to get to the quarterfinals. And Spain simply didn’t do that despite dominating possession and limiting Morocco’s attacking chances.

Spain had the ball over 75% of the time and had 13 shots to Morocco’s two. But just one of those 13 shots was on target — not counting Sarabia’s flick off the post in the waning seconds — as Morocco’s defense was impenetrable.