Ice-cool Hakimi seals victory as Morocco's heroes dump Spain out of World Cup

Madrid-born forward sends North African nation through to quarter-finals for first time in 3-0 penalty shoot-out win

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As all around him lost their cool, Achraf Hakimi kept his.

He even did a Panenka. A Panenka, with all that history in his hands, with all those thousands holding their breath in the stands on top of him and the many millions no doubt doing the same back home.

But he simply chipped home his penalty, the winning penalty, to knock out Spain and send Morocco through to the World Cup quarter-finals. A first World Cup quarter-final, 36 years after their only other attempt to make it that far.

Hakimi, the Madrid-born full-back, had vanquished Spain, those 2010 champions, settling a tense but thrilling goalless encounter at Education City Stadium on Tuesday with one swish of his ice-cold boot. Pablo Sarabia, Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets all missed from the spot for Spain, or rather goalkeeper Bono repelled them, the last line in that wall of resolute red.

Just like the 2018 global finals and last year’s rescheduled Euro 2020, Spain would suffer another shoot-out heartache – their fourth in five at the World Cup – but this should be all about Morocco.

Not given much chance of escaping a group containing Belgium and Croatia, they reside now as the fourth African side to make the World Cup last eight, the first from the north of the continent to do so. They are the first Arab representative to have survived this far at a global finals.

In Qatar, they haven’t been beaten; they haven’t even been breached by an opposition player. The solitary goal conceded in four matches came from their own defender, Nayef Aguerd.

Walid Regragui, the recently appointed manager with the instant Midas touch, labelled it pre-match as “the biggest game in our history”, and his mighty men grabbed it with both hands. Morocco were, as they have been for much of the tournament, monumental; Spain sent packing.

Unpacking that previous 120 minutes was no envious task. Spain dominated possession, with 77 per cent of the ball, but Morocco probably carved the clearest chances. Moments before half-time, Sofiane Boufal tricked enough room to cross, and Aguerd headed off target. Unmarked, and yards from the Spain goal, it seemed easier to score.

Morocco 0-0 Spain (Morocco win 3-0 on penalties) - player ratings

But Spain pressed forward. For much of the second-half, Morocco couldn’t get a hold of the ball. Pushed ever deeper, they were in danger of being picked apart. But they preferred instead to puff out their chests.

Sofyan Amrabat, a one-man barricade in central midfield, blocked brilliantly from Nico Williams. In injury-time, Bono pushed away Dani Olmo’s in-swinging free-kick. In between, substitute Alvaro Morata headed woefully off target having snuck around the back of the Morocco defence at a free-kick.

In the first half of extra-time, Morocco thought they had snatched it. Azzedine Ounahi rolled in Walid Cheddira but, faced with only Simon to beat, the substitute could not place his effort beyond the Athletic Bilbao stopper’s legs.

With the last kick before spot-kicks, Sarabia struck the outside of the Morocco post with a volley. He then did the same with his penalty, Spain’s first that set the tone.

Then Abdelhamid Sabiri scored for Morocco, Hakim Ziyech, too. Soler saw his spot-kick saved, Badr Benoun suffered the same fate. But Busquets could not get past Bono, the Morocco goalkeeper leaping to his right to set the stage for Hakimi. In truth, Spain were tame from 12 yards.

Hakimi, the star player in a team crammed with soon-to-be-similar, placed down the ball, inhaled deep, blocked out the thousands waiting with bated breath and dinked home a Panenka. He was soon swallowed up by teammates; not long after, Regragui got the bumps.

Morocco had bumped out Spain, and chiselled their place in the record books.

Morocco fans celebrate their victory - in pictures

Updated: December 07, 2022, 10:23 AM