Morocco became the first African side to reach the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup after a shock 1-0 win over Portugal in their quarterfinal clash. The Atlas Lions overcame a one-man deficit to eliminate the European giants.
After an awe-inspiring shootout win over Spain in the Round of 16, Morocco were up against a Portugal side that demolished Switzerland in the previous round. As with the match against the Swiss, Portugal manager Fernando Santos opted to leave Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, starting 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos in his place.
After a tense opening period to the game, Morocco took the lead through lanky striker Youssef En Nesyri. The Sevilla man rose highest to head home a cross from Yahia Attiat-Allah in the 42nd minute.
Bruno Fernandes almost delivered an instant response but saw his volley from an angle come back off the crossbar with half-time beckoning.
In search of a response from his team, Santos threw Ronaldo on in the 50th minute to equal the all-time international appearance record with his 196th appearance.
Portugal laid siege on the Moroccan goal as they looked to become the first opposing team to breach their backline, but they were met by resolute defending. Ronaldo hardly had a sniff but when he did, his low effort was palmed away by the impressive Yassine Bono in the Morocco goal.
The Atlas Lions were reduced to ten men at the start of added time as substitute striker Walid Cheddira received two quick bookings. His first booking came for a rough aerial duel with Pepe before two minutes later, he caught Joao Felix with his studs following a challenge.
Despite going a man down, Morocco continued to defend resolutely. Pepe missed a glorious chance at the death as he skewed his header wide from close range. The North African side held on for a historic win of great ramifications to their continent.
Having become the first African side to reach the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup, Morocco will face one of England or France for a place in the final.