March 3, 2024

Sports Desk: Morocco have reached the FIFA 2022 World Cup quarterfinals after a 3-0 penalty win over Spain.

The game was a goalless snooze fest which seemed destined for spot kicks and it went beyond 120 minutes in the end at Education City Stadium.

Pablo Sarabia, Carlos Soler, and Sergio Busquets were all denied by Yassine Bounou and it was left to Achraf Hakimi to convert the decisive kick for Walid Regragui’s men.

Tied at 0-0 after 120 minutes, the match needed to be decided on penalties where Morocco beat Spain 3-0.

They will play the winner of a match between Portugal and Switzerland, who square off in the final match of the knockout stage.

The game moved to 30 minutes of extra time and will proceed to a penalty shoot out if the teams fail to score in the stipulated additional time.

Spain faced a similar situation in the 2018 World Cup when it was eliminated in the Round of 16 against Russia. Koke and Iago Aspas missed their spot kicks as the host won the shoot out 4-3.

Spain has seen its fate decided by penalties on three more occasions at the World Cup. The first one came in 1986 when it lost to Belgium in the quarter final.

Next, it beat Republic of Ireland in the Round of 16 in the 2002 World Cup in South Korea. After winning the penalty shootout against Ireland, it was asked to win the same in the quarterfinals against the host. Yet again, it was the host that prevailed.

Spain has lost three of the four penalty shootouts it has faced at the quadrennial event, making it a success rate of just 25%.

The most recent penalty shoot out for the 2010 champion was at the 2020 Euro. In the semifinal, Spain faced Italy. The teams played a 1-1 draw and Italy won the shoot out 4-2. Alvaro Morata and Dani Olmo missed for La Furia Roja.

For Morocco, it will be unchartered waters in the penalty shoot out. It has never faced the situation in a World Cup.

The country has seen four shoot outs in history in competitive fixtures, and has lost all four. The last one came in 2021 Arab against Algeria where it lost 3-5.

A shoot out between Spain and Morocco will be the second Round of 16 game that will be decided by spot kicks. On Monday, Croatia beat Japan 3-1 on penalties after their game was locked at 1-1 after the end of 120 minutes.


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