Morocco secured only their third win on the World Cup stage with a famous victory against Belgium, leaving Group F wide open.
A superb second-half performance from Morocco secured a famous 2-0 World Cup victory against Belgium at Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday.
Victory for Roberto Martinez’s side would have seen the 2018 semi-finalists become the second side to book a place in the knockout stages, along with France, but the Red Devils fell short.
After Abdelhamid Sabiri saw Hakim Ziyech’s first-half free-kick disallowed, it paid dividends in the second period as Abdelhamid Sabiri guided Morocco to just their third win in World Cup history.
Victory was then secured in the final minutes of the game, Zakaria Aboukhlal smashing home from close range after good work from Ziyech.
Belgium saw most of the possession early on and dictated play, Michy Batshuayi forcing an early save from Munir Mohamedi, who came on as a very late substitute for Yassine Bouna.
Mostly on the back foot, Morocco thought they had scored on the brink of half-time when Ziyech’s free-kick found its way into the net, but Romain Saiss was adjudged to have blocked Thibaut Courtois’ field of vision. .
Lightning struck twice for Martinez’s side after the break as Sabiri unleashed a dangerous free-kick at the near post which found its way past Courtois and while Saiss was close again, this time Belgium were not saved without being ruled offside.
Any hope of a late fightback from Belgium was erased in stoppage time, Ziyech winning the ball after a poor touch from Axel Witsel and firing past Aboukhal to smash home.
Belgium 0-2 Morocco: Player ratings – World Cup
1. Belgium (4-2-3-1)
GK: Thibaut Courtois – 4/10 – Made a few saves but should’ve done a lot better for Morocco’s first goal.
RB: Thomas Meunier – 4/10 – Was really poor at both ends of the pitch, particularly when having to defend.
CB: Toby Alderweireld – 5/10 – Never looked too comfortable at the back on or off the ball.
CB: Jan Vertonghen – 6/10 – Was the better of the two Belgium centre-backs, dominating in the air.
LB: Timothy Castagne – 4/10 – Couldn’t handle Ziyech or cause Morocco any problems going forward.
CM: Amadou Onana – 5/10 – Battled well in midfield but was a little clumsy at times and couldn’t do much with the ball at his feet.
CM: Axel Witsel – 4/10 – Couldn’t do anything good with the ball, losing it more often than not.
RM: Kevin De Bruyne – 4/10 – Didn’t get anywhere near the levels he reaches for his club, unable to conjure up anything decent.
AM: Eden Hazard – 3/10 – Looked a shadow of his former self, completely incapable of taking players on or creating anything whatsoever.
LM: Thorgan Hazard – 6/10 – Was one of Belgium’s better attackers, making some good passes.
CF: Michy Batshuayi – 4/10 – Rarely got involved and was sloppy when he did, missing a decent chance.
SUB: Youri Tielemans (60′ for Onana) – 4/10
SUB: Dries Mertens (60′ for Hazard) – 6/10
SUB: Leandro Trossard (75′ for Hazard) – N/A
SUB: Charles De Ketelaere (75′ for Batshuayi) – N/A
SUB: Romelu Lukaku (81′ for Meunier) N/A
Manager: Roberto Martinez – 3/10 – He doesn’t have as good a squad as he used to, but to make them look *this* bad is some achievement.
GK: Munir – 7/10 – Came in for Bono at the last minute but didn’t look nervous at all, making a few good saves.
RB: Achraf Hakimi – 7/10 – Got forward really well, causing Belgium some problems, and dealt with Thorgan Hazard easily.
CB: Nayef Aguerd – 6/10 – Dealt with Batshuayi with ease and looked solid throughout.
CB: Romain Saiss – 7/10 – Led his backline perfectly, ensuring they never came close to being breached by the Belgian attack.
LB: Noussair Mazraoui – 6/10 – Didn’t get too involved going forward but was good at the back.
CM: Azzedine Ounahi – 6/10 – Made a few good balls but never really asserted himself.
CM: Sofyan Amrabat – 7/10 – As he did in the first match too, he more than held his own, looking better than the big names in the Belgium midfield.
CM: Selim Amallah – 5/10 – Struggled to get involved in the midfield battle.
RW: Hakim Ziyech – 8/10 – Created a number of chances, had a goal harshly ruled out by VAR and deservedly got a really good assist. The best player on the pitch.
CF: Youssef En-Nesyri – 5/10 – Worked hard but wasn’t able to cause problems for the Belgian defence.
LW: Sofiane Boufal – 7/10 – Arguably the most dangerous player on the pitch when he was on, so nearly scoring with a great effort and constantly getting the better of Meunier.
SUB: Yahia Attiyat Allah (67′ for Hakimi) – N/A
SUB: Abdelhamid Sabiri (67′ for Amallah) – 7/10 – Only had eight touches but two were key passes and one was a goal. Pretty good going.
SUB: Abderrazak Hamdallah (72′ for En-Nesryi) – N/A
SUB: Zakaria Aboukhlal (72′ for Boufal) – 7/10 – Took his goal excellently.
SUB: Jawad El Yamiq (78′ for Ounahi) – N/A
Manager: Walid Regragui – 8/10 – As he did against Croatia, set his team up to not only keep Belgium at bay but attack them too, and got his reward.