Morocco stunned the 2010 champions Spain to reach their first ever World Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday, winning their Round of 16 encounter in a penalty shootout at the Education City stadium. Morocco defeated Spain 3-0 on penalties, with all the three Spanish penalty takers missing the goal.
Achraf Hakimi, a product of the Real Madrid youth system, calmly scored the winner to take the African side into the last eight stage as a jubilant celebration erupted from players and fans in the stadium.
Two substitutes Pablo Sarabia and Carlos Soler along with Sergio Busquets came to take the Spanish penalties and failed to score. Whereas, only Badr Benoun missed to convert for Morocco, with Abdelhamid Sabiri and Hakim Ziyech scoring along with Hakimi.
Spain coach Luis Enrique had claimed his players prepared by taking 1,000 penalties as homework but Sarabia, Soler and Busquets all missed from the spot and Madrid-born Hakimi dinked his home to the delight of Morocco's raucous support.
Spain had been hoping they could repeat their 2010 World Cup triumph after reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020, where they were also beaten on penalties by Italy.
The teams were closely matched through a nail-biting clash, with Spain having more of the ball but Morocco creating the better openings, few though they were.
Luis Enrique trialled his third right-back of the tournament in Marcos Llorente, and benched the team's top scorer Alvaro Morata for Marco Asensio, after the shock defeat by Japan.
Morocco, who are the last African and Arab side left standing at the first World Cup held in an Arab country, were intensely backed and their fans greatly outnumbered Spain's.
With La Roja playing in a pale blue second strip, they resembled the away team on hostile territory.
Gavi, who at 18 years and 123 days old became the youngest player to start a World Cup knockout game since Brazil great Pele in 1958, rose to the occasion.
The Barcelona midfield terrier was at his most intense, smashing into challenges left, right and centre, even diving to make one with his head.
Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou tipped a Gavi strike on to the crossbar, though it would have been ruled offside, while Asensio drilled into the side-netting, although Spain created little.
Regragui's side sat deep defensively and threatened on the counter, with Unai Simon beating away a long range effort from Noussair Mazraoui.
Source: Times of India