Morocco through to Women's World Cup last 16 after dramatic finish

Anissa Lahmari seals victory over Colombia while Germany's draw means qualification for Arab side

Nouhaila Benzina and Sofia Bouftini of Morocco celebrate advancing to the knockout stage of the Women's World Cup. Getty
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Morocco's women's team continued their dream run Down Under as they stormed into the last 16 of the World Cup on Thursday.

The Moroccans defied their underdog status to upset Colombia 1-0, while fellow last-16 hopefuls Germany could only muster a 1-1 draw with South Korea. The result means the Atlas Lionesses go through as Group H runners-up behind the Colombians.

Anissa Lahmari scored on the stroke of half-time to put Morocco on course for the next phase. Morocco move on to meet France in Adelaide and Colombia play Jamaica in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Morocco are the first Arab side to compete at the tournament and consequently the first to reach the knockout stages. They will now look to emulate or even surpass their men's team who stunned one and all by making it to the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

It was a fairytale result for Morocco, who rebounded from a humiliating 6-0 drubbing on their debut against Germany with wins over South Korea and Colombia.

In front of 17,342 fans, the only goal of the match arrived moments before half-time when Ibtissam Jraidi was impeded in the box by Daniela Arias.

Captain Ghizlane Chebbak's penalty kick was spectacularly saved by lunging goalkeeper Catalina Perez, who dived to her left. But Sakina Ouzraoui pounced on the deflection and her nifty pass found Lahmari who made no mistake from close range.

There was some positive news for Colombia. Linda Caicedo played the entirety of the 1-0 loss against Morocco to allay concerns about the Real Madrid star's health.

There were still some concerning moments in the game at Perth Rectangular Stadium, where the 18-year-old forward looked well below her best.

Caicedo went down in pain in the first half when Benzina caught the top of her foot during one challenge. And she appeared to twist her ankle at the end of a run in the second half, which required treatment from Colombia's medical staff and left her limping for a short period afterward.

But there was no repeat of the fatigue and exhaustion that had sparked fears over her health during the first two weeks of the World Cup.

After the game, Morocco manager Reynald Pedros said of the fans: “They are going to support us one more time.

"We love them, we cherish them, we feel they’re behind us. It gives us strength. Well done to all the girls and we’re continuing on our merry way.”

Colombia coach said Nelson Abadia: “It was an intense game and a very strategic game. We lost because of a mistake we made in the goal area, with the penalty.”

Morocco women's team dedicate win over Colombia to King Mohammed VI

Morocco women's team dedicate win over Colombia to King Mohammed VI

It was a different saga in the other match. Germany crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage for the first time in their history.

With Morocco beating Colombia in Perth to join the South Americans on six points in Group H, Germany finished third in the table on four points and out of contention.

World Cup winners in 2003 and 2007, Germany reached the European Championship final last year and came to Australia as one of the favourites to win the trophy.

They knew a win against South Korea would take them through to the knockout stage and were expected to get the better of a side who had lost their opening two matches and had next to no chance of advancing.

But after they went a goal up early on through Cho So-hyun, the Koreans battled hard and defended ferociously to frustrate their opponents, who could not find a winner following Alexandra Popp's equaliser.

The Germans said before the game they wanted more creativity after their shock 2-1 loss to Colombia, but they were unable to convert their many chances.

"It's obvious this was not ideal, I think we are all aware of that," said Popp. "You have seen it and it is really difficult for me right now to give you some indepth analysis.

"During the second half we were informed that we needed urgently to score and after that I think we have shown strong desire, the grit to go for goal but somehow it just didn't want to go there."

Updated: August 03, 2023, 6:34 PM