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Sunday, 27 November 2022 – The Atlas Lions of Morocco stunned Belgium on Sunday afternoon, November 27 with two second-half goals to pick their first victory in the FIFA world cup in 24 years.
It was Morocco’s first win in Qatar 2022 and their second clean sheet in the competition.
Belgium were the overwhelming favourite for victory over Morocco, based on their past records in World Cup group-stage matches.
However, that wasn’t the case in Sunday’s tie as Belgium players were subdued by two second-half goals from substitute players, Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Abdoukhal.
The Atlas Lions, before Sunday, last tasted victory at the France 1998 World Cup when they trounced Scotland 3-0.
Morocco have won a World Cup game for just the third time in their history, a 3-1 win vs. Portugal in 1986, a 3-0 vs. Scotland in 1998 and now the 2-0 vs. Belgium in 2022.
Belgium’s Michy Batshuayi received a pass from Thorgan Hazzard but the shot on target was blocked by goalkeeper Muni in the fifth minute.
Inter pass exchange between Thorgan and De Bruyne from a freekick gave the Red Devils a corner kick in the 16th minute.
Belgium then failed to get the ball into the net after Amadou Onana’s header from a corner went slightly off target in the 17th minute.
Two minutes later, Meunier sent a direct shot into the hands of Moroccan goalkeeper, Munir.
However, Morocco and Chelsea attacker Hakim Ziyech put up a long-distance shot that went off-target in the 21st minute.
Then in the 33rd minute, Meunier’s through ball to Batshuayi was stopped by Munir. Two minutes later, Archaf Hakimi blasted wide what could have been a chance for Morroco to score first.
Just before halftime, Hakim Ziyech’s direct freekick goal was removed by VAR after Romain Saiss’ was found to be in an offside position.
Five minutes into the second half, Ziyech’s freekick was also saved by Courtois.
In the 57th minute Sofiane Boufal added to Morocco’s attempt with his shot that went past the goalpost.
Belgium then got their first shot on target in the second half after substitute as Mertens hit a close-range shot that was pulled out by Munir in the 65th minute.
At the 73rd minute, Morocco substitute Abdelhamid Sabiri broke the deadlock spinning a direct freekick past Courtois.
Sabiri’s goal is Morocco’s first-ever World Cup goal from a freekick.
Morocco tried defending the solitary goal as Coach Walid Regragui switched to a 5-3-2 formation and then in another surprise, scored a stoppage-time second goal from another substitute, Aboukhal Zakaria, who blasted through Courtois from Ziyech’s cutback pass.
Morocco will face Canada in their final group game while Belgium have a date with Croatia.