The World and European champion fails to add Olympic gold to its trophy cabinet with a third successive game without a goal
Both sides had very few chances in front of goal on a day of changing weather in Manchester. Spain came the closest to winning the game with a crisp passing move in the first half but Adrian Lopez’s low shot struck the post, while Morocco’s only sight of goal came on the hour but Abdelaziz Barrada was denied by the left knee of David De Gea.
After losing both of their opening games the Spaniards had nothing but pride to play for and Luis Milla named a strong starting lineup as they went in search of that elusive victory. Manchester United number one David De Gea continued in goal at his home stadium, and the Chelsea duo of Oriol Romeu and Juan Mata also started.
Morocco came into the game knowing that a win combined with a Japan win over Honduras could see them qualify for the quarter finals of the Olympic competition.
As the game kicked into action the performance from Spain had everything you expect from a Spain side but as it has shown during the whole tournament it lacked that cutting edge in the final third to really hurt teams. The inter-play from the young side was a joy to watch but it was all too easy for the Morocco defense to deal with and they very rarely got behind to test Mohamed Amsif.
Due to the manner in which Spain play Morocco was forced to play on the counterattack for the majority of the first half, but this suited the North African side who has a front two with plenty to offer on the break. Noureddine Amrabat and Zakaria Labyad particularly impressed with their movement, vision and creativitiy but only Labyad came close to testing De Gea when his long range free kick fizzed wide of goal.
It wasn’t until the 31st minute that the game had its first real moment of action and it came at the end of another Spanish passing masterclass. Mata found himself on the ball just outside the Morocco penalty area, he spotted the run of Adrian Lopez and played a great through ball into the striker but his low shot crashed against Amsif’s left hand post and rebounded to safety.
After a monsoon like deluge of rain at halftime the teams came out in the second half and continued with their neat brand of passing football but both sides still struggling to find that killer instinct in front of goal.
Morocco had its first clear sight of goal on the hour when a neat pass from Amrabat released Barrada inside the Spain penalty area. The forward was one-on-one with De Gea but his low shot was deflected wide by the keeper’s left knee.
Nine minutes later Lopez beat the Morocco offside trap and found himself alone with the only Amsif to beat, however the Atletico Madrid man tried to be too clever and chip the keeper but in the wet conditions he only managed to scuff the ball wide of goal.
As the game neared its conclusion the game began to be stretched but neither side was able to produce something of real quality to win the game. Mata and substitute Cristian Tello both saw good chances fly over Amsif’s crossbar, while at the other end Labyad’s audacious attempt at the back post didn’t worry De Gea.
Spain could, and probably should, have won the game in the final minute but Amsif made an excellent save from Lopez. The Moroccan keeper tipping the ball onto the crossbar from a tight angle.
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