Morocco and penalty curse beat Spain

All starting XIs have played for European clubs, including giants such as Paris Saint-Germain (Hakimi), Chelsea (Hakim Ziyech) and Bayern Munich (Noussair Mazraoui).

The two countries are separated only by the 13km wide Strait of Gibraltar and often intertwine, which adds to the spice.

Spain's Alvaro Morata (right) battles for the ball with Morocco's Javad El Yamic.

Spain’s Alvaro Morata (right) battles for the ball with Morocco’s Javad El Yamic.Credit:Associated Press

Morocco has a lot of support, not just their own nationals. Inside the pitch, their tenacious and disciplined defense was cheered on, with Spain’s passing merry-go-round whistling non-stop.

Outside, there was tight security, with rows of riot police on foot, with dogs and on horseback, after fans without tickets tried to force their way into the previous Morocco match. On several occasions, supporters intervened when they tried to break through the cordon.

Those entering the Education City Stadium saw Spain occupy possession in the first half without Bono’s save.


In fact, the only save was made at the other end, with Unai Simon collecting Mazraoui’s 32nd-minute shot from 30 yards. Ten minutes later, Nayef Aguerd headed home from a Sofiane Boufal cross, the best chance of the period.

Spain finally had a shot from Dani Olmo on target after 55 minutes, but it was too tight for Bono to worry about.

Forty minutes later, Olmo had his next shot of the game on target, a free-kick that blew through a group of players in stoppage time before being saved by Bono.

Spain had scored in their previous 24 games, dating back to June 2021, but the goalless draw after 90 minutes led to extra time.

The pattern remains the same, Spain holds the ball and Morocco scores. Walid Chedira from one of the latter, slid in by Azeuddin Onahi, should have scored but was blocked by Simon.

Spain’s best chance came with the last kick, when Pablo Sarabia hit the post from a tight angle in the 119th minute.

Minutes later, Sarabia hit the opposing post and Spain lost their first penalty. Bono saved from Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets before Hakimi got Morocco through.

Associated Press

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