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Qatar 2022: Morocco make history as Goncalo Ramos carries GOAT-starved Portugal to quarterfinals

It was a proud day for Africa as Morocco secured passage into the quarterfinal for the first time in the nation's history and will meet Portugal who mauled Switzerland 6-1 in the Lusail Iconic Stadium

Another day of history and histrionics at the World Cup

Just before the 'long' two-day break, the 2022 World Cup served us a final dose of excitement and intrigue in the round of 16.

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Morocco fought tooth and nail to secure a historic penalty shootout victory over Spain, keeping their third clean sheet in four World Cup games and refusing to concede a goal even during the penalty shootout.

Morocco finished top of Group F and were handed a tough round of 16 fixture against Spain who opened their World Cup campaign with a 7-0 victory over Costa Rica. The Atlas Lions were widely expected to struggle against the swift and savvy Spaniards, and while they had to endure for long stretches of the game, they eventually triumphed, demonstrating why they are one of Africa's best footballing nations.

Morocco demonstrated impressive defensive solidity by limiting Spain to just one shot on target in 120 minutes, despite La Roja having over 1,000 passes in the match, and with that performance, they extended their incredible run of not conceding a goal scored by an opponent at the World Cup so far.

The only goal the Atlas Lions have conceded came at the expense of their own player, Nayef Aguerd in their 2-1 win over Canada.

Against Spain, they put on another masterclass in defensive resilience and forced the game into extra time where misses from Pablo Sarabia (who was brought on for the sole purpose of taking a spot-kick), Carlos Soler, and Sergio Busquets left Spain at the mercy of Madrid-born Achraf Hakimi of Morocco who scored an audacious Panenka penalty to send Morocco to the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time in their history.

The exclusion of 37-year-old Portuguese talisman Cristiano Ronaldo from the starting lineup was the biggest talking point ahead of Portugal's round of 16 match against Switzerland, but the young guns of the Iberian nation proved that they could do the business without their cult-hero and captain.

After a disastrous performance against South Korea in Portugal's final group game, which culminated in a scuffle on the sidelines, Ronaldo was demoted to the bench for his country's crucial tie against Switzerland, and Portugal found a new hero in his place.

21-year-old Benfica starlet Goncalo Ramos stole the show with the best individual performance of any player at the World Cup, scoring a hattrick and providing an assist as Portugal brushed aside their Swiss challengers in a ruthless 6-1 demolition that also saw goals from defenders Pepe and Raphael Guerrero, as well as substitute Rafael Leao.

Ronaldo was only a 71st-minute sub for the new kid in town, Ramos, when the game had already been won at 5-1, and it is left to see if he will be reinstated for Portugal's fixture against Morocco in the quarterfinal or if he will play second fiddle to the incredible Ramos again.

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