Sunday’s decisive victory for Morocco over Belgium at the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar helped to improve the North African nation’s hopes of advancing out of Group F. At Al Thumama Stadium, substitutes Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal came off the bench to score two goals in the final fifteen minutes of regulation time.
After playing Croatia and then Belgium, Walid Regragui’s team will play Canada in their next match. The Atlas Lions currently have four points out of a possible six, putting them in fourth place. However, it is now up to the Red Devils to defeat Croatia in a matchup between the runner-up and third-place teams from 2018, a matchup that might result in one or both teams being sent home from the tournament early.
It was an unusual beginning in Doha, as Moroccan goalkeeper Bono was on the field for the national anthem before being replaced by Munir in time for the team photo and the start of the game due to sickness. The latter was forced into action early on to deny Michy Batshuayi who had snuck in behind, but the majority of Belgium’s attacking play was confined to the edge of the box, and Thomas Meunier shot weakly on goal as well.
Thibaut Courtois, the goalkeeper for Belgium, was a rare example of confidence in Roberto Martinez’s typically sluggish starting XI, and he shined with the ball at his feet until Amadou Onana got himself suspended for the game against Croatia. Courtois was in the process of pulling the ball out of his net just before halftime, but the video assistant referee decided that Hakim Ziyech’s ball in was not valid because Romain Saiss was involved.
At the beginning of the second half, Belgium appeared more motivated, and Eden Hazard was able to force a save out of Munir before the captain was taken out of the game. As the crowd at Al Thumama Stadium waited for the game’s first goal, Sofiane Boufal attempted a curling shot that went just inches wide of the post. The game was tied with 17 minutes left on the clock when a replacement player named Sabiri scored the game-winning goal by curling the ball in from a free kick that Courtois saw too late. This time, a Moroccan player did not interfere with the goal, therefore it was allowed to stand, and the team led by Regragui took the lead, which led to joyous celebrations in Doha.
Despite the fact that Romelu Lukaku was only partially fit and out of shape when he was substituted in, the Belgians never appeared likely to pull themselves back into it after that as Jan Vertonghen headed wide from a corner in their finest chance late on in the game. While the Red Devils were seeking to find an equalizer, they left themselves vulnerable at the back, and it was only a matter of time before Morocco took advantage of that vulnerability.
Aboukhlal accomplished exactly that when he hammered home high into the net two minutes into additional time, doubling the advantage for the Atlas Lions and ensuring that they would take all three points. Despite the outcome of Canada’s match against Croatia, the Moroccans view their match versus Canada as a must-win contest because they already have four points out of a possible six.
Zlatko Dalic’s squad is not exactly overflowing with goals at this point in the tournament; nonetheless, match day three also has an important matchup between Belgium and the Croats. This game could be used to determine who has regressed the most since the previous World Cup. After such a lackluster performance from Martinez’s side, it is easier to comprehend the critical remarks that Kevin De Bruyne made when on press duty earlier this week.