Morocco defeated but the fairytale continues


France beat Morocco 2-0 to progress to the FIFA World Cup finals against Argentine

from HUSSEIN HUSSAIN in Doha, Qatar
Special Correspondent
DOHA, (CAJ News) – MOROCCO have suffered their first defeat at the tournament but such has been their progress that not even this setback against defending champions France can stop their fairytale run in Qatar.

The myth continues until Saturday when they battle fellow beaten semifinalists, Croatia, for the bronze medal at the Khalifa International.

For France, the prize of the 2-0 win against the North Africans at Al Bayt is the final match against Lionel Messi’s Argentina at the Lusail on Sunday.

With their injury woes at the back, Morocco will always wonder what might have been with a fully-fit defence.

Centre back Nayef Aguerd withdrew before kick-off after his hamstring injury recurred.

Captain Roman Saiss withdrew the same injury in the 21st minute, to be replaced by Selim Amallah.

Leftback Noussair Mazraoui did not return for the second half, his place taken by Yahya Attia Allah.

It took 485 minutes for the first opposition player in the tournament to score against Bono in the Moroccan goal, when leftback Theo Hernandez scored with an acrobatic finish in the fifth minute.

He finished unmarked with an acrobatic effort at Bono’s near post.

Walid Regragui responded tremendously to falling behind with the industrious Sofyan Amrabat bossing the midfield.

Hugo Lloris single-handedly kept France in the lead, first with a diving save from a curling effort by Azzedine Ounahi in the 10th minute.

Hakim Ziyech shot tamely wide six minutes later after being supplied by the excellent Sofiane Boufal.

Lloris returned to rescue the French with a world-class save, tipping Jawad El Yamick’s acrobatic effort onto the post in the 45th minute.

The best opportunities and most of the possession went to the North Africans in the second half but they let France off the hook.

The Europeans’ second goal by Randal Kolo Muaini in the 79th was against the run of play. Then possession was 60 percent in favour of the Moroccans.

The substitute profited from great work inside the box by the nippy Kylian Mbappe.

Football being a cruel sport at times lost despite their most dominant performance thus far at the tournament.

Lloris was also in inspired form between the spots but Morocco will be first to admit on several occasions, they were hesitant in good positions in the box.

In the end, France held on for a win that puts them through to win the title back-to-back. For Morocco, a bronze medal will be a cherry on top in what has been the story of the tournament.

– CAJ News







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