World Cup history: Morroco upsets Portugal to become first African semi-finalist, ends Ronaldo’s World Cup dreams

Morocco won in the quarter-finals in what could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last World Cup. The North African team scored yet another stunning victory, beating Portugal 1-0 to become the first African nation to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup. Youssef En-Nesyri scored the winning goal in the 42nd minute. They face either England or France in Wednesday’s semi-final.

Portugal kept the same game plan, with Ronaldo on the bench, but the final result never reflected the 6-1 blowout against Switzerland. Morocco put in another solid defensive effort, stifling Portugal’s attack and frustrating their opponents. The organized formation and conservative possession lead to good counter-attacking moments. A red card late in the game put more pressure on Morocco, who ended the game with one man down, but their relentless efforts paid off and their Cinderella story continued at the World Cup.

Morocco keeps making history

A fearless Morocco team executed their game plan flawlessly in the quarter-finals. As they did against Spain in the round of 16, the team strangled the space between the lines in a defensive formation in order to attack forward when favorable opportunities presented themselves. The group were smart in picking the right moment to counter-attack, and despite spending less time on the ball in the first half, it led to effective possession for the team.

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Portugal overtook Morocco in the first 45 minutes, executing 321 passes compared to Morocco’s 156, but the Atlas Lions proved once again that dribbling is only possible when you can get the ball behind the net. Time is what matters. Ennesiri’s breakthrough goal before the half-time whistle was the perfect catalyst for Portugal to hit the panic button in the second half.

Ronaldo’s final World Cup ended in tears

Manager Fernando Santos wasted little time in the second half to bring Ronaldo into the game. Portugal’s top scorer came on in the 52nd minute as the team tried to attack the Moroccan defense. His presence required more attention and opened up more space in the final third, but the chance of an equalizer never came and Iberia were ultimately eliminated.

Ronaldo’s fifth and likely final World Cup is over. The fiasco may have been the opposite of the storybook ending for the 37-year-old striker, but the chapters written during this period are yet another blot on his legacy. Rolando’s headlines and his tumultuous relationship with Manchester United came to a head when the striker was on international duty. He was eventually sacked by the Premier League club Followed by Million-dollar deal rumors for Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr… The striker will now turn his attention to his next club following a quarter-final exit

what’s next

The semi-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will take place between Argentina and Croatia on Tuesday 13 December. Morocco await an England-France winner and will meet either side on Wednesday 14 December.

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