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Morocco v Portugal Live Commentary, 10/12/2022

FT
1 - 0
MAR
POR
Y. En-Nesyri (42)
Al Thumama Stadium

Commentary

That's all from Al Thumama today, so thank you for joining us and goodbye!
The latest member of the European establishment to become victims of Morocco at these finals, Portugal painfully exit the World Cup. While surely bringing the curtain down on the international careers of Pepe and Ronaldo, their new generation has at least shown enough promise to target victory at Euro 2024. Meanwhile, their quarter-final conquerors march on!
History is written, as Morocco become Africa's first World Cup semi-finalists by bravely beating Portugal in Al Thumama. Defending relentlessly and exhibiting great skill on the break, the Atlas Lions roar into the final four thanks to En-Nesyri's magnificent first-half header. Even with several injuries to contend with, they delight their hordes of noisy fans, and having eliminated Belgium, Spain and now Portugal, a high-stakes clash with England or France awaits.
90' + 8' FULL-TIME: MOROCCO 1-0 PORTUGAL
90' + 7' JUST WIDE! A glaring miss by Pepe surely ends Portugal's hopes! Arriving at the back post, the veteran centre-back plants his header wide from close range, following Leao's cross from the left!
90' + 6' SAVE! Costa keeps Portugal in it! Attiyat-Allah releases Aboukhlal through the centre, with two Portugal defenders left in his wake, but the latter only prods an attempted chip straight into the chest of the goalkeeper!
90' + 5' In sheer desperation, Cancelo sends a long, straight ball straight out of play. That's a goal-kick for Morocco, as the clock ticks down.
90' + 3' OFF! A clumsy challenge on Joao Felix sees Cheddira receive his second yellow card, and the substitute striker is sent off! Morocco are down to 10 men, with five minutes of stoppage time to go!
W. Cheddira
Yellow Card
Morocco
90' + 1' For a rugged aerial challenge on Pepe, substitute Cheddira is booked by the referee.
90' + 1' SAVE! Bounou denies Ronaldo with a save low down in the centre of his goal, after the striker wraps his foot around a throughball to the brink of the box! It was no more than a half-chance, but Portugal need something - anything - to go in now!
90' + 1' Rather unconvincingly, Cheddira drags a low shot wide of the right post after another counter-attack.
89' Portugal's players look disconsolate, as Joao Felix and Fernades are on different wavelengths and waste possession inside the final third. It's a goal-kick for Morocco, who are within a hair's breadth of creating history!
Vitinha
Yellow Card
Portugal
87' Vitinha catches Ounahi as the Morocco midfielder attempts a volleyed clearance from the edge of the box. The referee sees fit to issue a booking.
85' Again, the jeers and whistles reach a deafening crescendo, as Morocco's fans attempt to repel Portugal's relentless advance through sheer sound alone! To rapturous cheers, Dari then clears his lines with a header from deep inside the area.
83' SUPER STOP! Bounou flings himself up to the top-right of his goal to palm away a thunderous strike from Joao Felix, who receives the ball from Ronaldo's layoff on the edge of the box! What a save! Could that make all the difference in a few minutes time?
Y. Jabrane
S. Boufal
Morocco
82' A tired Boufal is also withdrawn by Regragui, as Jabrane is introduced for the closing stages.
Z. Aboukhlal
H. Ziyech
Morocco
82' Soon after going down injured and then making a brief recovery, Ziyech is replaced; Aboukhlal comes on in his place.
80' Following a long wait to be allowed back on, Ziyech resumes his role as part of Morocco's resistance.
Ricardo Horta
Diogo Dalot
Portugal
79' Santos rolls the dice again, as Dalot makes way for Horta.
77' Ounahi misplaces a pass for Boufal in the final third, thereby ending Morocco's latest counter-attack. But with Ziyech down injured an apparently requiring treatment, another stoppage will at least kill valuable time.
75' For perhaps the 100th time in these finals, Amrabat breaks up an opposition attack deep inside his own half; springing Ounahi on the counter. At the end of a rapid break, Cheddira is unable to bring the ball under his control in the area, and Portugal escape. They simply can't concede again.
74' Cancelo turns sweetly on the left flank and earns Portugal's second corner in quick succession, as the Iberians turn the heat up another notch. It's relentless pressure now!
72' After Silva can't make sufficient contact on a Fernandes free-kick from the left touchline, Morocco temporarily get the ball away. However, the white shirts of Portugal soon enough descend again; penning back the entire Moroccan XI inside their defensive third.
A. Dari
Yellow Card
Morocco
70' For lunging recklessly into a tackle on Leao on the right flank, substitute Dari is shown the game's first yellow card.
Vitinha
Otávio
Portugal
69' A switch in midfield sees Vitinha replace Otavio for the final 20 minutes of the 90.
Rafael Leão
Gonçalo Ramos
Portugal
69' By contrast with his incredible impact against Switzerland, Ramos has endured a frustrating shift today. He now makes way for powerful winger Leao up front.
67' For all Portugal's pressure, the Atlas Lions do not look like yielding. They are within touching distance of becoming Africa's first-ever World Cup semi-finalists - but can they hold on?
B. Benoun
Y. En-Nesyri
Morocco
65' Having scored a potentially history-making goal during the first half, En-Nesyri is now replaced by Benoun.
W. Cheddira
S. Amallah
Morocco
65' Regragui makes his first tactical change, as Amallah makes way for the fresh legs of Cheddira.
64' JUST OVER! Having been fed by Silva on the edge of the box, Fernandes lets fly with a powerful strike, which rises narrowly over the crossbar! So close, but what a chance missed in the context of this game!
62' Ramos just can't get a touch on Fernandes' latest ball over from the right flank, which zips across the Moroccan six-yard box without anyone making contact.
60' Fernandes lofts a free-kick from a central position into the box, but one of numerous red-shirted Morocco defenders heads the ball away to relative safety. No matter the personnel, Regragui's side seem to defend with heart and head in equal measure.
58' WIDE! Left in space near the penalty spot, Ramos heads Otavio's cross wide of the target! It was a presentable chance, of which he has been starved so far today.
A. Dari
R. Saïss
Morocco
57' Due to a recurrence of Saiss' injury, Dari comes on to slot into Morocco's back four.
56' Morocco captain Saiss, who started the game heavily bandaged, lies on the turf and seems unable to continue. He's been struggling for much of the match, but appears the centre-back's race is now run.
55' Ounahi gets underneath a shot from outside the box and rather rashly sends it spiralling over the crossbar. Nonetheless, its a sign that Morocco can still prove a threat on the break.
53' With Ronaldo now partnering Ramos up front, Portugal's intent is clear: they are not willing to depart these finals without a fight! They are in the ascendancy, but are surely vulnerable to the counter.
Cristiano Ronaldo
Rúben Neves
Portugal
51' Portugal's second substitution sees Neves replaced by Ronaldo, who makes his 22nd World Cup appearance and a men's international record overall.
João Cancelo
Raphaël Guerreiro
Portugal
51' Santos has seen enough, and calls for the cavalry. First, Guerreiro makes way for Cancelo at left-back.
49' SAVE! Costa reacts to repel the ball at close quarters, after El Yamiq connects with a Ziyech free-kick from the right flank. The goalkeeper spreads his body and keeps the ball out, before the rebound strikes the defender again and goes behind!
48' The second half starts with a period of Portuguese pressure, but Hakimi eases his team clear of trouble by racing down the right touchline at top speed; earning a free-kick.
46' Morocco kick off, and we are back under way at Al Thumama Stadium!
After En-Nesyri became the first Moroccan to score three times in a World Cup finals - and from just three shots on target in the competition to date - his team are in pole position to reach the semi-finals. The North African nation have also won each of their last three World Cup matches when leading at half-time, dating back to 1970.
Contrary to most expectations, neither side has taken a backwards step today, as Morocco and Portugal went toe to toe in an entertaining quarter-final encounter. The early stages saw the Selecao dominate the ball without creating many openings, but their opponents cut through on the counter several times before taking the lead through En-Nesyri's majestic header. Blessed with some sublime attacking talent on the bench, Portugal can reasonably hope to turn things around after the interval, but the Moroccan defence is not easily beaten.
45' + 3' HALF-TIME: MOROCCO 1-0 PORTUGAL
45' + 2' In a wild ending to the first half, Fernandes goes down claiming a penalty - the referee is not interested - before Ounahi releases Attiyat-Allah down the left, on the counter. The full-back then stabs a hurried attempt wide of the near post, in the last major act of the half.
45' OFF THE BAR! An incredible effort from a narrow angle on the right edge of the box sees Fernandes clip the face of the crossbar, following Dalot's flick-on from the flank! It was an instinctive strike, which left Bounou beaten, but ultimately bounces away to safety!
Y. Attiat-Allah
Assist
Morocco
42' Attiyat-Allah's lofted cross from the left wing picks out En-Nesyri to head home the game's opening goal.
Y. En-Nesyri
Goal
Morocco
42' MOROCCO LEAD! At the third time of asking, En-Nesyri strikes! Having missed two earlier headed chances, the Sevilla striker leaps brilliantly to beat Costa to a cross from the left by Attiyat-Allah. He nods the ball into the back of the unguarded net; putting the Atlas Lions 1-0 ahead just before the break!
39' With an ambitious attempt to steer in a first-time finish, Joao Felix flicks a shot over the crossbar from Guerreiro's left-wing cross. Perhaps taking a touch would have been the better option there.
38' As Morocco's momentum grows, Portugal are glad to receive a free-kick in midfield for a minor foul by Boufal on Otavio, who took the former's arm in the face.
36' Morocco continue to take more chances in the final third, as Boufal scuds a low shot towards the centre of Costa's goal from outside the area. The goalkeeper is more than equal to it, though, and gathers the ball low down.
35' After Attiyat-Allah reaches the left byline and cuts the ball back towards the six-yard box, Amallah diverts his cross wide of the near post with a wayward shot.
33' Remarkably, losing two key components of their almost impregnable back four appears to have had little impact on Morocco today. They continue to defend determinedly and with a clear sense of purpose.
31' CLOSE! Meeting a dropping ball with a driven half-volley from the edge of the box, Joao Felix sees his goalbound effort blocked at close range by El Yamiq, who had previously failed to clear his lines. That was a rare opening in this first half for the Selecao!
28' The whistles grow ever louder, as Portugal again assume control of the ball for an extended spell. Yet, they have rarely threatened Morocco's goal.
26' MISS! Another fine chance to score goes astray for En-Nesyri, who again mistimes his header. This time, the striker turns Ziyech's inswinging free-kick over the crossbar when virtually unmarked in the area!
24' A brief flare-up of tempers is quickly quelled, after Bounou takes contact from Fernandes in an aerial challenge. Once the goalkeeper accepts the Portuguese midfielder's apology, he then clears his lines from a free-kick inside the area.
22' After Ziyech wins a corner on the right, the Chelsea winger slings over a cross to the near post, which Fernandes heads behind for another corner-kick. Morocco have certainly shown some intent to get forward when the opportunity arises.
20' Ramos, perhaps growing a little frustrated at a lack of service so far, fells Boufal deep inside the Morocco half and concedes an unnecessary free-kick.
18' Cutting in from the right flank at speed, Ziyech drifts past two defenders and lashes a low shot a yard wide of the right-hand post from 20 yards.
17' After a surprisingly open start to proceedings, a more scrappy phase of the game ensues, with neither side able to keep the ball or build any sustained attacking momentum.
15' In line with most pre-match expectations, Portugal have had 79 per cent possession during the first 15 minutes of this quarter-final contest.
13' After Amrabat brings down Otavio 30 yards out from goal, Neves then meets the cross from Fernandes' free-kick with a header before the ball breaks loose to Guerreiro. The full-back lets fly with a powerful strike from the edge of the box, but sees it blocked and Morocco ultimately bundle the ball away.
11' Alert to the danger, Costa rushes off his line to sweep up a low throughball from Boufal for Amallah, who breaks into the box from midfield but can't make clean contact in time.
9' Joao Felix almost escapes on the left-hand side of the area, but his loose touch when trying to trap a sweeping crossfield ball allows Hakimi to intervene.
7' MISS! From Ziyech's outswinging corner, En-Nesyri spurns a golden chance to open the scoring; mistiming a free header from only a few yards out and sending the ball over the crossbar!
5' SAVE! Bounou reacts sharply to dive down to his left and turn behind Joao Felix's diving header, which is sent towards the centre of the goal! It was a superb cross from Fernandes' right-sided free-kick.
3' A chorus of whistles rings around the stadium as the Moroccan fans object to an early spell of Portuguese possession. The Selecao are carefully keeping the ball inside their own half.
1' Clad in all-white, Portugal kick off - and we are under way in Qatar!
After rousing renditions of both national anthems, the players are taking up their positions at Al Thumama Stadium, and kick-off is now just moments away!
Following their scintillating display against the Swiss, Portugal make just one change to their starting XI today. Neves comes in for Carvalho in central midfield, as Ronaldo remains benched and Benfica forward Ramos leads the line up front. Perhaps indicating a changing of the guard, at 26 years and 332 days old, the Selecao field their youngest ever team in a World Cup finals fixture.
Largely unchanged throughout the finals, Morocco have been forced into making two switches today. Centre-back Nayef Aguerd and full-back Noussair Mazraoui both miss out through injury, so El Yamiq and Attiyat-Allah come into the starting XI. Hakimi and Amrabat have overcome fitness fears to feature, while Saiss is also available to captain the Atlas Lions from the heart of defence.
SUBS: Rui Patricio, Jose Sa, Joao Palhinha, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva, William Carvalho, Rafael Leao, Vitinha, Joao Mario, Joao Cancelo, Ricardo Horta, Matheus Nunes, Antonio Silva.
PORTUGAL (4-3-3): Diogo Costa; Diogo Dalot, Ruben Dias, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro; Otavio, Ruben Neves, Bernardo Silva; Bruno Fernandes, Goncalo Ramos, Joao Felix.
SUBS: Munir Mohamedi, Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti, Abderazak Hamdallah, Anass Zaroury, Abdelhamid Sabiri, Ilias Chair, Zakaria Aboukhlal, Abdessamad Ezzalzouli, Achraf Dari, Walid Cheddira, Bilal El Khannous, Badr Banoun, Yahya Jabrane.
MOROCCO (4-3-3): Yassine Bounou; Achraf Hakimi, Jawad El Yamiq, Romain Saiss, Yahia Attiyat-Allah; Selim Amallah, Sofyan Amrabat, Azz-Eddine Ounahi; Hakim Ziyech, Youssef En-Nesyri, Sofiane Boufal.
After slaying Switzerland 6-1 in the last 16, Portugal arrive in the quarter-finals on the crest of a wave. Euro 2016-winning coach Fernando Santos took the bold decision to drop captain Cristiano Ronaldo, and the veteran's fresh-faced replacement Goncalo Ramos was the Selecao's hat-trick hero on Tuesday. Previously Group H winners, Portugal are aiming to take one more step towards lifting the World Cup for the first time, having been beaten semi-finalists back in 1966. Victory today would seem them meet either England or France in the final four.
Having blazed a trail for both Arab and North African football during their run to the quarter-finals of Qatar 2022, today Morocco aim to reach the final four. The Atlas Lions bravely held off Spain in the last 16; winning on penalties to reach this stage for the very first time. Walid Regragui's well-drilled side had already beaten established European opposition, Croatia and Belgium, to finish first in Group F and have now kept six clean sheets in their last seven matches. Can such solidity now help them become Africa's first World Cup semi-finalists?
Hello and welcome to live coverage of today's World Cup quarter-final clash between Morocco and Portugal at Al Thumama Stadium!