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Morocco stuns Portugal, makes history as first-ever African side in World Cup semifinal

Morocco made history as they beat Portugal and became the first-ever African nation to reach a World Cup semifinal.

That sound you can hear is the celebrations in Marrakesh, Casablanca and all of Morocco.


Youssef En-Nesyri’s first half header was enough for Morocco, as they sat back and allowed Portugal to have plenty of the ball but Bruno Fernandes hit the bar, smashed another over and both Joao Felix and Cristiano Ronaldo (who came off the bench) were denied by the brilliant Yassine Bounou in goal for Morocco.

Substitute Walid Cheddira was sent off late on for two yellow cards but Morocco held on amid incredible scenes as their fans went wild at the final whistle at the Al Thumama Stadium as they’ve now beaten Spain in the last 16 and Portugal in the quarterfinals.

Morocco boss Walid Regragui was the first-ever African coach to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup and he is now heading to the semifinals, just a few months after taking charge of Morocco. The team ranked 22nd in the world beat star-studded Portugal as Cristiano Ronaldo was shown walking off the pitch in tears at the final whistle as what was surely his final World Cup appearance ended in bitter disappointment.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

As for Morocco, they will now face the winner of England versus France in the World Cup semifinal, as the Atlas Lions have kept four clean sheets in five games and have incredible momentum heading into the final four.

Intensity, defiance, belief behind the Atlas Lions making history

This was Morocco’s tournament summed up in 90 minutes. Roared on by their huge following in Qatar, they were a total team unit and knew exactly what they were doing for every second of the game. Their flair players provided class when it mattered, they were slick on the counter and they are so well-organized and industrious. They had 27 percent possession and never really looked out of control in the game. There were heroes throughout their team and there seemed to be total belief they could beat Portugal. And they did. History was made.

Stars of the show

Sofyan Amrabat: Another display full of intensity, tough-tackling and leadership in midfield. What a tournament he’s had.

Yassine Bounou: Made a fine stop to deny Felix and kept yet another clean sheet.

Screenshot 2022-12-10 at 17.04.11

How to watch Morocco vs Portugal live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday December 10Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Doha TV channels en Español: TelemundoStreaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

What a save from Bounou! He denies Joao Felix’s effort from the edge of the box.

Superb counters from Morocco whenever they get the chance to. Their injury-hit side is holding firm. Just over 10 minutes of regulation to go. Can they hold on to make history!?

The second half is underway and Morocco come so close to getting a second. Hakim Ziyech whips in a brilliant cross from a free kick but Diogo Costa saves as everyone misses it.

Bruno Fernandes hits the crossbar from a ridiculous angle. So close to an amazing goal from Bruno!

GOALLLL! Morocco ahead. That was coming. What a header from Youssef En-Nesyri.

So close! Joao Felix’s deflected shot loops towards the top corner but flies just over.

Morocco have been solid but Portugal have had a few half chances.

Key storylines, players to watch closely

Bounou -- spelled Bono on his jersey -- was sensational in penalties, but Morocco’s defenders limited Spain to a single shot on target. Romain Saiss has been especially good in the middle of the back line while Achraf Hakimi and Noussair Mazraoui have been effective out wide, going forward and defending.

Portugal put Goncalo Ramos in the Starting XI for Cristiano Ronaldo and the 21-year-old center forward scored three goals and added an assist against Switzerland. Bruno Fernandes has been wonderful for Portugal, while Ruben Neves and Rafael Leao were able to get through the match with small sub roles and should be rested if called upon by Fernando Santos, who is seeking a World Cup to go with his EURO crown.

Morocco quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 22
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CAF
Coach: Walid Regragui
Key players: Achraf Hakimi, Yassine Bounou, Youssef En-Nesyri, Romain Saiss

Portugal quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 9
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs
Coach: Fernando Santos
Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Neves, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Cancel

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