Morocco advance to round of 16 as group champions
Morocco defeated already-eliminated Canada 2-1 on Thursday to win World Cup Group F and advance to the round of 16 for the first time since 1986.
Morocco, which required a win or a draw in their final Group F match to go to the knockout rounds, took the lead on four minutes when Hakim Ziyech capitalised on a poor clearing by goalkeeper Milan Borjan.
Midfielder Ziyech effortlessly lobbed the ball over the stranded goalie, cheered by by a raucous crowd of Moroccan fans.
Borjan had been put in an unpleasant position by central defender Steven Vitoria, whose poor back pass caused the goalkeeper to sprint to the ball, allowing Moroccan striker Youssef En-Nesyri to score.
En-Nesyri was a threat throughout the first half, extending Morocco’s advantage in the 23rd minute after latching onto a long pass from Achraf Hakimi and beating Borjan at the near post.
En-Nesyri also volleyed into the Canadian net during first-half stoppage time, but the goal was ruled offside.
Morocco finished first in the group and will face the second-place finishers in Group E, with Croatia drawing with Belgium in the other Group F game.
In the 40th minute, Moroccan defender Nayef Aguerd scored Canada’s first goal of the World Cup by inadvertently diverting a cross by Sam Adekugbe past his own goalie Yassine Bounou.
Canada, which is leaving their first World Cup without a win since 1986, will automatically qualify for the 2026 tournament as co-hosts alongside the United States and Mexico.