|Triumphant! The Atlas Lions beat Spain to advance on penalties and will now face Portugal in the quarter-finals. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
Morocco pulled off a shocking quarter-final ticket on Tuesday with a disciplined, yet gritty performance to oust Spain on penalties after regulation and extra time ended goalless.
Pablo Sarabia thought he had won it for La Roja but his last-gasp effort at the end of extra time cannoned off the woodwork; it was Sarabia that stepped up to take the first penalty for the Spaniards and yet again, his effort came back off the upright.
Spain dominated the game for a greater part of the 120 minutes but was denied many times by Yassine Bounou who was in inspired form for the entirety of the game; the Sevilla keeper repelled everything La Roja threw at him and he deserves all the credits he gets.
"The responsibility is mine," Enrique said after the match. "I chose the first three penalty takers, who were those I thought were the best specialists on the pitch. We didn't even get to the fourth. Bounou is a spectacular goalkeeper in this aspect; he has a high percentage in going the right way. He was great."
"Football is a marvelous, passionate sport, but a team can win without attacking," Luis Enrique said. "Morocco attacked once or twice and were dangerous, but we dominated the game completely, and tried to create."
"We would have liked to create more. It was hard for us," added Luis Enrique. "We had 11 shots, I think, but few on goal. In the final move of the game Pablo Sarabia hit the post. The penalty shootout was hard for us. But I'm proud of my players."
It is the second time in back-to-back World Cups that Spain Would be losing out on penalties after crashing to Russia in 2018. Luis Henrique has taken the blame but as they journey back home, where does Spain go from here?
It's the first time Morocco will be participating in the last eight of the World Cup, joining Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana as the only African sides to taste advanced knockout football at the global stage. They will face Portugal who beat Switzerland on Tuesday.