Morocco stun Spain to reach quarters; Portugal hammer Switzerland

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Morocco stunned Spain 3-0 in their FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match that was decided via a penalty shootout at the Education City Stadium in the Qatari capital .

With the surprise victory, Morocco have become the only African and Arab nation to reach the quarterfinals at the Qatar World Cup.

Spain’s players and fans were shocked at the end of the shootout when they failed to convert even a single shot from the spot as Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou saved efforts by Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets. Pablo Sarabia, meanwhile, struck the post.

Read More: Uruguay beat Ghana 2-0 but crash out of World Cup

For Morocco, Abdelhamid Sabiri and Hakim Ziyech scored, and while Badr Benoun’s effort was saved by Unai Simon, Achraf Hakimi sealed his team’s maiden entry in the World Cup quarterfinals after he sent Spain’s goalkeeper the wrong way.

Spain, the 2010 champions, were the next major European side after Belgium and Germany to crash out.

In the other Round of 16 match, a hat-trick from Benfica striker Goncalo Ramos saw Portugal coast to a 6-1 win over Switzerland to set up a quarterfinal clash with Morocco.

At the Lusail Stadium in Qatar, 21-year-old striker Ramos, who replaced Cristiano Ronaldo in the starting lineup, scored three goals in the 17th, 51st and 67th minute to secure the first hat-trick of the tournament, restoring hope and faith in Portugal coach Fernando Santos.

Read More: Defending champs France, England reach Qatar World Cup quarters

Pepe was handed the captain’s armband in Ronaldo’s absence who was on the bench, and scored the second goal for Portugal in the 33rd minute. Raphael Guerreiro also found the target for Portugal scoring their fourth goal in the 55th.

Switzerland managed to pull one back in the 58th minute through Manuel Akanji but that didn’t seem to carry much weight.

Portugal brought in Ronaldo in the 73rd minute much to the excitement of the crowd but he was unable to add his name on the scoresheet. However, Rafael Leao added a sixth goal in stoppage time to complete a resounding win for the Portuguese side.

Earlier, Neymar levelled football legend Pele’s record of 77 Brazil goals with a goal against Croatia but that was not enough to take them to the next stage. Neymar’s team crashed out of the event after going down 4-2 in penalties to 2018 runners-up Croatia.

Also, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved two penalties to help Argentina defeat the Netherlands in their quarterfinal penalty shootout to set up a semi-final against Croatia.