FIFA World Cup 2022: Morocco makes history to become the first African nation to progress to the World Cup semi-finals2 min read
Morocco became the first African team ever to reach a World Cup semi-final as the Atlas Lions continued their fairytale run in Qatar with a 1-0 win over Portugal at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday.
Walid Regragui’s side saw off Spain on penalties in the last 16, but this was even more impressive and notable as Morocco ensured they will go where no other African nation has ventured before.
Youssef En-Nesyri had the honour of scoring what will go down as one of the most important goals in the history of African football as he powered in a header just before the break.
Portugal piled pressure on for much of the second half, introducing the again-benched Cristiano Ronaldo, but their efforts fell short much to the delight of the Morocco-dominated crowd.
Fernando Santos’ side unsurprisingly enjoyed early control, but clear opportunities were non-existent.
Encouraged, Morocco looked dangerous on the break and the contest livened up after the half-hour mark – Selim Amallah blazed over from Romain Saiss’ cut-back and the lively Sofiane Boufal shot at Diogo Costa from 25 yards.
As such, the Atlas Lions were good value for the lead when En-Nesyri towered above Costa to head in Yahya Attiat-Allah’s cross after 42 minutes.
Bruno Fernandes’ dipping right-wing volley struck the crossbar, and he was subsequently denied a penalty after claiming to be tugged back in the box.
Ronaldo’s introduction – just before Azzedine Ounahi wasted a decent chance – effectively ushered in complete Portugal control.
But Portugal created precious little until crucial late Yassine Bounou saves from Joao Felix and Ronaldo, as Morocco valiantly held on for another momentous result despite substitute Walid Cheddira’s stoppage-time dismissal for a second booking.