Morocco advanced to the World Cup semifinals on Saturday, defeating Portugal 1-0 and becoming the first Arab and African country to make it to the round of four in tournament history
Morocco’s Youssef En-Nesyri scored the lone goal of the match, heading a cross from Yahya Attiyat Allah in the 42nd minute.
Morocco, which notched another shocking win over Spain in the quarterfinals last week, held on against Portugal even as its star striker Cristiano Ronaldo entered the match just after halftime—he had been snubbed from the team’s previous two matches.
Morocco was also forced to play down one person in the final minutes of play after Walid Cheddira earned a red card in the third minute of added time, after receiving two yellow cards within minutes of each other.
Following the team’s win, fans celebrated with flags of not only Morocco, but Palestine and host country Qatar.
Portugal manager Fernando Santos benched Ronaldo at the start of the match, saying, “there is no problem with our captain” and that he “had no issue with my decision.” Following the team’s dominant 6-1 win over Switzerland in the Round of Eight earlier this week, Ronaldo, the 37-year-old former Manchester United and Real Madrid star, congratulated his teammates in an Instagram post, calling their win a “luxury exhibition of a team full of talent and youth”—although video footagefrom the match caught him appearing visibly frustrated, saying, “he’s in a rush to sub me.” Ronaldo’s replacement, 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat trick in Portugal’s win over Switzerland.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Defending champion France takes on rival England in the final match of the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. ET Saturday, with the winner facing Morocco in the semifinals on Wednesday. Argentina, which narrowly held on in its quarterfinals match against The Netherlands on Friday after the Dutch team forced extra time, will play Croatia, which won its match against Brazil—a team favored to win the tournament—in the other World Cup semifinal match on Tuesday. The final between the winners of those matches is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 18.
By Brian Bushard, Forbes Staff