Footy Times

Late Morocco show shock Belgium

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Morocco stunned Belgium 2-0 in World Cup Group F on Sunday, with Abdelhamid Sabiri scoring from an audaciously tight angle and fellow substitute Zakaria Aboukhlal adding a second in stoppage time.

Sabiri’s free shot from near the corner flag beat Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois at the near post for the 73rd-minute winner, delivering Morocco’s third win in World Cup history.

Aboukhlal’s goal came on the counter-attack, set up by Hakim Ziyech as Belgium were caught pressing forward for the equaliser.

The North Africans also had the ball in the net with the last kick of the first half as Ziyech’s free kick eluded everyone in the penalty area and caught Courtois unsighted, but a VAR check found skipper Romain Saiss had been just offside.

It was Morocco’s first win at a World Cup since they beat Scotland in 1998. They left the 2018 tournament with a single point.

“We played against one of the best teams in the world with big players, but we know that if you don’t give 100%, it is impossible to win. With these players and these fans, anything is possible,” Morocco coach Walid Regregui, whose team have not conceded a goal in five games since he took over in September, said.

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez said his side can still improve at the World Cup and encouraged them to show more personality in attack.

“We haven’t been the best Belgium at this World Cup yet,” he admitted. “Today I thought we played with the fear of losing. Without the ball we still work for each other but when we have the ball, we don’t stand out, we are not ourselves. We have to work on that.

“We have to stay together now and become stronger. I know this group, we will be ready for Croatia [on Thursday].”


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