Tuesday, January 31, 2023

WC: Morocco knock Spain out on penalties; Brazil beat S. Korea

Morocco reached the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time, as they ousted former winners Spain on penalties in a gripping Round of 16 game.
The last African side left in World Cup 2022 defended superbly throughout and had two golden chances to win it in extra time — Walid Cheddira twice going close.
It mattered little, though, as Spain failed with their first three spot-kicks in the shootout, leaving Achraf Hakimi to nervelessly convert the decisive kick with an audacious Panenka chip, and send his team through to a meeting with Portugal or Switzerland in the third quarterfinal on Saturday.
The pattern of the game was established from the first whistle, Spain dominating possession but struggling to find a way through a disciplined Morocco backline.
Luis Enrique’s side had almost 70 percent of the ball in the first 45 minutes but went no closer than Marco Asensio’s shot into the side-netting, with Gavi and Ferran Torres both denied in the same move by spectacular blocks, although the offside flag was already up.
Morocco’s gameplan was clearly to soak up pressure and try to hit the Spanish on the break, Noussair Mazraoui’s fierce shot from range stinging the palms of Unai Simon, before Nayef Aguerd, unmarked at the far post, headed over a golden chance created by the trickery of Sofiane Boufal.
The same pattern continued into the second period, Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bouno reacting smartly to push away Dani Olmo free-kicks at either end of the half, while Alvaro Morata fizzed a shot across the face of the goal shortly after his introduction. Morocco had the two best chances of the first period of extra time, Cheddira first being denied by Aymeric Laporte’s challenge and then the right leg of Simon, but it was the African side’s superb defending at the other end that proved crucial.
Pablo Sarabia hit the post with Spain’s first kick of the shootout before Bouno saved from Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets, giving the chance for Hakimi – born in Madrid – to convert the winning penalty with a Panenka kick.
Brazil set up Last 8 clash with Croatia
A fabulous show of football by Brazil sent South Korea packing in their FIFA World Cup 2022 Round of 16 match at the 974 Stadium in Doha on Monday.
The Koreans were completely outplayed by the Brazilian side in the first half as the South Americans scored 4 goals in a span of 29 minutes.
The Asian side could salvage its reputation in the second half, but just, with the help of a 76th minute goal. The match ended 4-1 with Brazil set to take on Croatia in a quarter final clash.
The men in yellow began the assault on their Asian rivals when Vinicius Junior, assisted by Neymar Jr netted home in the seventh minute by a right foot shot.
As a sea of yellow cheered their side incessantly in the 40,000-capacity stadium made with shipping containers, Brazil scored the second goal with the help of a penalty taken by Neymar Jr in the 13th minute.
Brazil’s third goal came in the 29th minute when Richarlison shot from the centre of the box to make it 3-0. He was assisted by Thiago Silva.
Lucas Paqueta, assisted by Vinicius Junior, made no mistake in the 36th minute to make it 4-0 for the South American side. Several South Korean fans left the stadium in tears as their team became the last Asian side to exit from the tournament on Tuesday.

Quarter Final (Friday)
Brazil Vs Croatia
Time: 8:30 pm
Netherlands Vs Argentina
Time: 12:30 am
(Saturday)

Brazil’s Vinicius Junior, 2nd left, celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the World Cup round of 16 match between Brazil and South Korea. (AP/PTI)
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