March 21, 2023

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Morocco v Belgium: The World Cup is a surprise as the Atlas Lions stun the Red Devils and Costa Rica beat Japan

Morocco v Belgium: The World Cup is a surprise as the Atlas Lions stun the Red Devils and Costa Rica beat Japan


It was a day filled with great turmoil world Cup as such Belgium And the Japan Both succumbed to shock defeats to Morocco and Costa Rica respectively.

Morocco won their first World Cup match since 1998 – and their third match ever – to claim a massive 2-0 victory over heavyweight Belgium to ensure they continue to qualify for the knockout stage for the second time in their history.

The Atlas Lions were defeated by the solid support on the field as they overcame a disallowed goal at the end of the first half to score two impressive goals in the second half.

First, Abdelhamid Sabiri curled a neat free-kick from the left wing, deceiving Thibaut Courtois, before Zakaria Aboukhal famously sealed the victory for his side.

After an underwhelming performance in their opening 1-0 win against Canada, Belgium started more fluently but still looked like a shadow of their usual self as Morocco looked to build on their strong World Cup start after a goalless draw against Croatia.

And it looked as if Morocco had managed the early breakthrough at the end of the first half, as Hakim Ziyech volleyed a stunning free kick past Courtois, although it was later ruled out by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) for offside.

The two teams headed down the tunnel level 0-0, but that did not dampen the support of the thousands of Moroccan fans whose cheers resounded around the stadium throughout the match.

They went into celebration midway through the second half when Sabri blasted a free kick into the net, bringing Morocco within reach.

Belgium gave little response, and Ziyash bypassed the Belgium defense in stoppage time and passed the ball back to the penalty area, where Abu Khalal fired it into the net.

When the final whistle blew minutes later, several Moroccan players dropped to their knees – some bowed their heads in prayer, some simply collapsed from exhaustion – before celebrating each other.

Morocco is now at the top of Group F with four points after surprising the second-placed team in the world.

Earlier in the day, Costa Rica shocked Japan with a 1-0 win, thanks to an 81st minute goal from Keysher Fuller, as they kept their hopes of qualifying for the tournament alive. world Cup Surviving knockout stages with three crucial points tied with Spain and Japan in Group E.

Japan, fresh from a surprising victory over it Germany which gave them a real chance of reaching the knockout rounds, they were unable to find a foothold in this match despite Costa Rica still licking their wounds from the painful 7-0 defeat to Spain.

Costa Rica bounced back from a 7-0 defeat by Spain in their opening match.

It was a disappointing first 45 minutes, marked by disorganized passing from both sides as neither could muster a single shot on goal.

Immediately after the end of the first half, the pace picked up immediately with the introduction of two new faces of Japan – Takuma Asano and Hiroki Ito.

Hidemasa Morita shone his way into the penalty area and set up a shot on goal that was saved by Keylor Navas.

Japan continued to press but could not capitalize and the match soon returned to the frosty rhythm of the first half.

Then, against the run of play, Costa Rica capitalized on a foul on the edge of the penalty area and Fuller volleyed the ball into the top corner of the net, past Shuichi Gonda’s outstretched hand, for his team’s first shot on goal and first goal. Championship goal.

Costa Rica's win kept them chasing the playoffs.

The Samurai Blue fans were silenced for the first time, as the stream of singing and drumming swept through the stadium throughout most of the match, cementing Costa Rica’s support as their own chants of “Oe Oe Ticos!” I slept louder.

With just nine minutes of normal time remaining, Japan, hoping to clinch a place in the knockout stages, saw a late chance with the ball bouncing around the penalty area by Navas as Costa Rica held on for victory.

With the Spain-Germany match later on Sunday, the fate of the two teams will be decided in the final round of matches.

Croatia avoided joining the list of undefeated favorites on Sunday, beating Canada 4-1 to claim their first win in Qatar.

The 2018 World Cup finalist had to come from a goal down after Alphonso Davies scored in 68 seconds – the fastest goal of the tournament so far – to give Canada the lead, but Croatia responded with goals from Andrej Kramaric and Marko Livaga before halftime. time.

Kramaric scored his second goal in the match 20 minutes before the end, and Lovro Mager added the fourth goal in stoppage time to ensure victory for Croatia, while Canada exited the World Cup with two defeats in two matches.

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