World Cup history: Morroco upset Portugal to become first Africa semifinalst, end Ronaldo’s World Cup dreams

Morocco spoiled Cristiano Ronaldo’s possibly last World Cup with a victory in the quarterfinals. The North African achieved yet another stunning victory, beating Portugal 1-0. It became the first African country to ever reach the semi-finals of the World Cup. Youssef En-Nesyri scored the winning goal in the 42nd minute. They will face either England or France in Wednesday’s semi-final.

Portugal kept the same Game Plan with Ronaldo on the bench, but the final result never mirrored Switzerland’s 6-1 thrashing. Morocco produced another strong defensive effort that stifled Portugal’s attack and kept the opposition frustrated. An organized shape and conservative ball control led to good counter-attacking moments. A red card late in the game increased the pressure on Morocco to end the game with a man down, but their relentless efforts paid off and their Cinderella story continues at the World Cup.

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Morocco keeps making history

The fearless Morocco team executed their game plan perfectly in the quarterfinals. As they respectively did against Spain on the 16th. in the quarterfinals, the team suffocated the spaces between the lines in their defensive formation to try to jump forward to attack when a favorable opportunity arose. The group were smart to pick the right moments to commit to the counterweight and it led to effective spells of possession despite spending less time on the ball in the first half.

Portugal outplayed Morocco in the first 45 minutes, completing 321 passes compared to Morocco’s 156, but the Atlas Lions proved once again that the ball only counts if you get the ball in the back of the net. En-Nesyr’s breakthrough goal just before the half-time whistle was the perfect catalyst to make Portugal hit the panic button in the second half.

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Ronaldo’s last World Cup ends in tears

Manager Fernando Santos wasted little time in the second half to introduce Ronaldo to the match. Portugal’s top scorer came on in the 52nd minute as the team tried to throw everything at Morocco’s defense. His presence demanded more attention and opened up more space in the final third, but an equalizer never materialized and the Iberian side eventually went down.

Ronaldo’s Fifth and possibly last World Cup has ended. The narrow loss may have been the opposite of a storybook ending for the 37-year-old forward, but the numbers written during this period are another stain on his legacy. The headlines about Rolando and his tumultuous relationship with Manchester United came to a head while the striker was on international duty. His eventual dismissal from the Premier League club followed rumors of a megamillion deal to play for Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr. The striker will now shift his focus to his next club after playing in the quarterfinals.

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What next

The semi-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup begin on Tuesday, December 13 with Argentina and Croatia. Morocco await the winner of England-France and will face either side on Wednesday 14 December.


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