Morocco booked a historic place in the World Cup semi-finals as En-Nesyri stunned Portugal

Wow. It was 19.57 in Qatar, just before 18.00 in Casablanca, when Facundo Tello blew the final whistle, giving a delirious signal for the players on the touchline to finally break free and flow onto the pitch, and for those who were already there to collapse onto the pitch. floor. They've done it, these Atlas Lions. Legend now, the roar ripped through everyone here and far, far beyond. History was made and is made of this. Morocco is the first African team to reach the semifinals of the World Cup. Walid Reragui's team have faced Belgium, Croatia, Spain and now Portugal, but they are made of granite. No one can take them down, task before France now. In eight and a half hours of football – plus three penalties in the shootout – no opposing player scored against them: the only time they conceded, they scored it themselves, an own goal against Canada. Here, Portugal fielded a striker who scored a hat-trick against Switzerland and then called on Cristiano Ronaldo to save them from the bench, to no avail. Ronaldo disappeared into the tunnel crying. This may be his last game.

It doesn't belong to Morocco. Ronaldo had one chance in the 91st minute, the moment seemed to have come in time, but Bono saved it, as he so often does. Pepe had the clearer pass but his close-range header somehow crossed the post in the 97th minute, a kind of shout that accompanied the ball as it flowed, and Morocco wrote another page of this story – even without substitute Walid Cheddira, who was sent off in the dying minutes. final.

Countering is something Morocco do really well but don't think it's all they do: this is a team who deserve their place in the semi-finals and in history, as well as the wild scenes that accompany the finale here. In the end one goal was enough, but the simplicity of that statement should not suggest that Youssef En-Nesyri's 42nd-minute header was everything. The Moroccan defense myth must be put aside. Yes, they started from the inside, broke through, but they weren't just waiting to run – they were working for the opportunity to do so. They had the clarity and cutting edge few teams have, picking their way through small gaps, exchanging passes and flowing into the afternoon, the midfield was not a place to stop but to run fast. The last time they did that, with time running out, right back Achraf Hakimi ran into Portugal's six-yard box. He's an extraordinary player, and he's not alone. Sofyan Amrabat and Azzedine Ounahi of Fiorentina, who are battling relegation with Angers in France, have consistently outperformed footballers considered to be more well-known. In Sofiane Boufal and Hakim Ziyech they have beautiful feet, two amazing escapologists. So while João Félix's header was saved by Bono after just four minutes and he had a deflected effort that momentarily looked like it had gone in, it was Morocco who had the better chance. En-Nesyri headed high after a run from Boufal, and Ounahi set up Ziyech for a shot before En-Nesyri saw the second effort go wrong. Yahia Attiyat Allah then pulled back perfectly to punch Selim Amallah high and wide.

Then it happened. The cross from the left, delivered by Attiyat Allah, is long and circular, but En-Nesyri jumps like Jordan. Diogo Costa, diving lower and to his left, misjudged the flight. Still in the air when he realized the ball would not reach him, he fell with an expression on his face that said: where did it go? The answer was to go in goal, En-Nesyri's header bounced back onto the pitch.

Even though Bruno Fernandes smashed the ball over the bar and then called for a penalty – he went down too easily when he felt Hakimi's hand on his shoulder – Morocco continued to create more. Ounahi rolled it to Attiyat Allah, the ball begged to be settled but the left back cut his shot horribly instead. The free kick then misses to the far post with three men present. And another sharp jab left the field open again only for Ounahi to fire home.

At that time Ronaldo had appeared, the stage seemed ready. Instead, the first chance came to Gonçalo Ramos who headed wide from a position the No 7 would have preferred before Bruno Fernandes' effort went flying.

This was Ronaldo's 196th international appearance, equaling a FIFA record; preventing him from adding to his 118 goals was made more difficult by the forced departure of the third member of the back four, Romain Saïss was withdrawn. It's time to fight back, that didn't stop the five man overwhelming stampede, the break finally died at Cheddira's feet. That doesn't stop them from doing it again even later.

Faced with a struggling red wall of Portugal, Ronaldo teed up Félix seven minutes from time. Bono flew to brush it aside and moments later saved Ronaldo's low shot, perhaps the forward's last outing for Portugal. Amazingly, Morocco had one more chance before Pepe's header, Zakaria Aboukhlal sent in a clean ball only to shoot straight at Costa.

It feels like the moment where fate punishes you, cruelty is bound to come, but Morocco is made of something else. They survived with only 10 people – and an entire continent. This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS.  

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