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Morocco Player Ratings: Bounou and Hakimi keep Africa's World Cup dream alive

5:40 pm AEDT 6/12/22
Yassine Bounou celebrates with teammates.
The goalkeeper kept the North Africans in the game before he saved two penalties in the shootout while the right-back scored the winning spot kick.

Morocco are the only African team standing at the 2022 World Cup following their shootout win over Spain to reach the quarter-finals.

The Atlas Lions sealed a historic last-eight place in the global tournament after several failed attempts with their best-ever previous performance being a round-of-16 placement in 1986.

Morocco put up an impressive defensive performance to thwart the 2010 world champions and had goalkeeper Yassine Bounou to thank for keeping them in the game before he came up trumps in the shootout while right-back Achraf Hakimi also impressed and went on to score the winning penalty.

GOAL rates how the Atlas Lions players performed on a memorable day for the North Africans.

  • Yassine Bounou against Spain.

    Yassine Bounou 10/10

    The reason Morocco are in the quarter-finals, the Sevilla goalkeeper saved two penalties to send his team to the last eight for the first time in their history.

    Bounou showed nerves of steel to play out from the back despite the high press of Ferran Torres and Dani Olmo and saved twice from the RB Leipzig forward, first from a free-kick in the second half and then deep in added time when he got a strong hand on a cross at his near post.

    He saved the very best for last as he dived the right way to save from Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets in the post-match shootout to hand his team a huge advantage which they capitalised on.

  • Achraf Hakimi.

    Achraf Hakimi 9.5/10

    Another one who had a brilliant game for Morocco, Hakimi was measured in his forward runs against Dani Olmo and Jordi Alba who operated on the left side of Morocco's attack.

    He chose his moments well, staying back when needed and advancing when necessary. It restricted his attacking game as he only managed one cross but it played a huge part in Morocco maintaining their shape and containing Spain.

    Walid Cheddira almost scored from his brilliant cross in the 85th minute before the Paris Saint-Germain fullback headed away a dangerous cross in the dying minutes of extra-time. Hakimi then scored the winning penalty during the shootout, showing great composure under intense pressure.

  • Romain Saiss.

    Romain Saiss 9/10

    The central defender played yet another impressive game at the heart of defence, showing great leadership to organise his teammates and ensure they stayed in shape.

    Saiss was the warrior at the back, making 11 clearances to ensure his side did not concede and even when on the back foot, he rarely panicked, choosing carefully when to make a tackle.

    His determination was seen in the manner he carried on with a hamstring problem, refusing to be taken off in extra-time until his team won the match.

  • Nayef Aguerd.

    Nayef Aguerd 7.5/10

    Went off injured in the 83rd minute after a good performance in defence alongside captain Romain Saiss.

    He made four clearances while winning one ground and aerial duel a piece as his team stayed compact to contain their opponents.

    Aguerd was not afraid to go forward and nearly scored in the 42nd minute from a header following a cross in the box.

  • Noussair Mazraoui.

    Noussair Mazraoui 8/10

    Substituted in the 81st minute, the Bayern Munich full-back offered Morocco a lot both offensively and defensively.

    He made five clearances while putting in two tackles and in what was a dominant performance at left-back where he won four of his five ground duels.

    Mazraoui vacated his position to launch attacks when needed and nearly opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when he drew out a great save from Unai Simon after making a good run forward. It was Morocco's and the game's first shot on target.

  • Sofyan Amrabat.

    Sofyan Amrabat 9.5/10

    The Fiorentina man was everywhere, sitting deep to protect the defence, getting into wide areas to cover for the fullbacks when they vacated their position while launching attacks from deep.

    Despite playing in a defensive role, Amrabat was the only one from Morocco's three midfielders who attempted defence-splitting passes when the Atlas Lions tried to play between the lines.

    One such pass almost yielded a goal before Jawad El Yamiq fluffed his lines in extra-time. He constantly organised his teammates in shape and made a number of great clearances, including an 88th-minute block from a goal-bound Alvaro Morata shot.

  • Azzedine Ounahi.

    Azzedine Ounahi 8/10

    Ounahi was tasked with keeping youngster Pedri quiet, a task he performed admirably well in until he was taken off in extra-time.

    The midfielder acted as an extra defender for Morocco, sitting deep when Amrabat went forward while covering for the centre-backs whenever they were dragged out of position.

    With Spain intent on playing in the middle of the park, he thwarted a number of dangerous situations, winning seven out of his 10 ground duels while putting in four tackles.

  • Selim Amallah.

    Selim Amallah 6.5/10

    He went off in the 82nd minute for Walid Cheddira as Morocco sought to have more control but he was not afforded much space to get in advanced areas as he would have wished.

    Amallah was handed a place in the starting XI ahead of Abdelhamid Sabiri who started the win against Canada due to his ability to retain possession but he did not dictate the game as much as Amrabat and Ounahi.

    He did a good job on Gavi, preventing the youngster from creating danger especially in the first half, and only got forward once when Morocco were on the counter-attack.

  • Hakim Ziyech.

    Hakim Ziyech 7.5/10

    Not a very impressive game for Morocco's go-to man in Qatar, Ziyech had more defensive work than he would have wished but all contributed to the victory.

    The Chelsea winger was given little room by Jordi Alba and with the Morocco wingers instructed to provide more out of possession, he spent most of the game helping out Hakimi.

    Ziyech had no shot and was only restricted to long balls and crosses with none finding its target. He, however, showed calmness to slot in his penalty in the shootout.

  • Youssef En-Nesyri.

    Youssef En-Nesyri 6/10

    The Sevilla striker did not have the space to run into or the chances to finish like he has against Canada.

    With Morocco defending for most of the contest, he was isolated upfront and only managed 17 touches in the 81 minutes he was on the picth.

    He, however, helped out defensively, winning all his three ground duels and also made one clearance.

  • Sofiane Boufal.

    Sofiane Boufal 8/10

    The Angers forward dazzled on the left side of Morocco's attack, taking on Marcos Llorente without fear and brought in a couple of crosses which his teammates were not able to capitalise on.

    His work rate was also impressive when he tracked back to help whenever Mazraoui was pegged back, putting in tackles to keep Spain at bay.

    He was taken off in the 65th minute as Walid Regragui sought to have the quicker and fresh legs of youngster Abde Ezzalzouli to deal with the pace of the game.

  • Abde Ezzalzouli.

    Abde Ezzalzouli 6/10

    The 20-year-old Barcelona forward replaced Boufal with 25 minutes remaining in what was his fourth cap for Morocco. He helped out defensively, winning two of his three ground duels, while he also made as many clearances.

  • Jawad El Yamiq.

    Jawad El Yamiq 7.5/10

    Came in as an 83rd minute substitute for the injured Nayef Aguerd, he blocked two shots while making five clearances, using his height well to head away danger as Spain threatened to score in the dying minutes of the game.

  • Walid Cheddira.

    Walid Cheddira 7/10

    Cheddira was among the substitutes who caught the eye and almost struck the opener after being teed up by Hakimi in the box before Spain cleared the danger.

    The Bari striker replaced Amallah in the 81st minute and despite having nine touches, he managed two shots, one hitting the target, as the Atlas Lions sought to avoid penalties. Though, he should have scored from at least one of his opportunities, being guilty of holding onto the ball too long.

  • Abdelhamid Sabiri.

    Abdelhamid Sabiri 8/10

    Scorer of Morocco's first penalty, Sabiri missed out on the starting XI to Amallah but offered the Atlas Lions a lot going forward later.

    He sought to get them playing on the front foot and almost yielded dividends when he teed up Cheddira but the forward missed when through on goal with only Unai Simon's outstretched leg preventing a goal.

  • Badr Benoun.

    Badr Benoun 4/10

    He came in with just a minute of extra-time remaining purposely for the shootouts but missed his spot-kick which was saved by Unai Simon.

  • Yahya Attiat-Allal.

    Yahya Attiat-Allah 6.5/10

    The Wydad Casablanca defender was handed his third cap when he came on for Mazraoui in the 82nd minute and stayed in his position for the entire period to form part of a compact back four that opted to soak in the pressure late on.

    He made three clearances while putting in two key tackles in extra-time to thwart Morata and Nico Williams.