In what was the biggest shock result of the World Cup round of 16, African giants Morocco defeated 2010 World Champions Spain on penalty shootouts. This upset loss has put the future of manager, Luis Enrique into a cloud of uncertainty.
After 120 minutes of football ended scoreless, Morocco won the penalty shootout 3-0 thanks to the heroics of Yassine Bounou who saved two out of the three spot kicks he faced.
Morocco scored all three of their spot kicks with Madrid born Achraf Hakimi scoring a flamboyant panenka to seal the victory for the Teranga Lions.
Pablo Sarabia, Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets missed the penalties that meant Spain will exit their second straight World Cup in the round of 16 phase. In 2018, it was against Russia, who were the World Cup hosts at the time. In 2014, Spain also crashed out of the group stages of that tournament.
Luis Enrique said after the match that he takes all responsibility for the defeat and discussions on his future will be held regarding his future.
"Next week we will speak and discuss about my future, now it’s not the right moment," Enrique said to reporters after their surprise defeat. "I’m the one responsible."
On his team's performance, the Spain boss claimed to be satisfied with his team's performance. He added: "I am more than happy with my team. They represented my theory and my style. I can only praise them."
Enrique did not complain about their defeat. He believes upsets are part of football.
"We tried to win. I cannot complain about Morocco. This was a beautiful game for children all over the world. Whether you like it or not this is football, this is life."
After a 7-0 win against Costa Rica, Spain were seen by many as the most dangerous side in the tournament. They were immediately labeled as one of the favorites to win the World Cup.
Their 1-1 draw against Germany did nothing to dampen that belief but a shock 2-1 loss to Japan in their their third group game showed that there may be reason to worry about La Roja.
It would've been a result that gave Morocco hope of beating their European opponents in the round of 16 and they were able to succeed at the Education City stadium.
Morocco's brilliant campaign saw them qualify from a group that had Belgium and Croatia who were last tournament's second and third placed teams. They even came away with a big win over Belgium, the current second best team in the World according to FIFA.
This win for Morocco meant that their coach,Walid Regragui becomes the first African coach to lead his team to the World Cup quarterfinals.
The Teranga Lions dream run will continue into the quarterfinals where they will face another difficult test in Portugal at the Al Thumama stadium.
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