World Cup Saturday Recap: Morocco become first African nation to reach semifinals, while France outlast England 2-1 in heavyweight bout

Mandatory Credit: Photo by William Volcov/Shutterstock (13660347bc) Jawad El Yamiq Moroccan player during a match against Portugal valid for the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup at Al-Thumama Stadium Morocco v Portugal, FIFA World Cup 2022, Quarter Final, Football, Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar – 10 Dec 2022

World Cup Saturday Recap: Morocco become first African nation to reach semifinals, while France outlast England 2-1 in heavyweight bout

Recapping the Saturday action:


  • What: World Cup, Quarterfinals
  • When: Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022 @ 9 a.m. CT
  • Where: Al Thumama Stadium (Doha, Qatar)
  • FIFA World Ranking: Portugal (No. 9), Morocco (No. 22)

Morocco became the first African nation ever to reach the World Cup semifinals as they continued their improbable run in Qatar with a 1-0 shutout victory over Portugal on Saturday at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar. The Moroccan’s quarterfinal clean sheet was their fourth in five matches, as well as the fifth consecutive game not allowing an opposing player to score a goal. The only goal scored against Morocco all tournament still remains an own goal versus Canada during group stage play, and it was again the Lions of Atlas’ defense that got the job done.

Youssef En-Nesyri’s header in the 42nd minute proved to be the game-winning goal for No. 22-ranked Morocco, who possessed the ball for just 27% of the match and were able to brunt a Portuguese attack which totaled 12 total shots and three shots on goal during regulation time.

En-Nesyri’s goal came on an assist from Yahia Attiyat Allah to give Morocco a 1-0 lead heading into halftime. The 25-year-old forward of Sevilla snuck the ball into the net, near the right side of the post, as Portuguese goalkeeper Diogo Costa hesitated and didn’t react fast enough to make the save. Morocco were able to sit back and park its defense the rest of the way. Cristiano Ronaldo was subbed onto the field early in the 53rd minute to give Portugal a boost, tying the FIFA men’s record for most international appearances (196) with Kuwait’s Bader al-Mutawa.

Portugal had extremely close chances for goals throughout the contest, but they were repeatedly stifled. A Bruno Fernandes volley rattled the crossbars shortly after Morocco’s first score, and goalkeeper Yassine Bounou registered a fingertip save on another shot by Joao Felix, as well as a late attempt by Ronaldo in the second half, to help preserve the win and semifinals berth. Morocco, which had just two total wins coming into the 2022 World Cup, now have four wins alone in Qatar through five matches.

Despite its defensive-minded strategy, Morocco still remained aggressive on its counterattacks throughout the match. The Lions of Atlas impressively finished with more expected goals than Portugal (1.40 to 0.92), according to, and still managed nine total shots and three shots on goal overall. Morocco’s defense also amassed 35 clearances, three blocks, and three keeper saves from Bounou. Portugal’s 73% possession rate for the match led to the Selecção das Quinas tallying more than twice as many passes as Morocco (663 to 247), accurate passes (567 to 176), accurate crosses (eight to three), throw-ins (27 to 11) and corner kicks (nine to three). Eight of Portugal’s 12 total shots came from inside the box, although only three were deemed as shots on target, and another three were blocked shots.

Morocco will advance yet again in the knockout stage, this time to face 2018 World Cup champion France in the semifinals at 1 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Katar. Morocco has won just once in 11 total meetings with France between 1963 to 2007. The two nations haven’t met since they drew 2-2 in an international friendly in 2007.


  • What: World Cup, Quarterfinals
  • When: Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022 @ 1 p.m. CT
  • Where: Al Bayt Stadium (Al Khor, Qatar)
  • FIFA World Ranking: France (No. 4) vs. England (No. 5)

France scored the opening goal early in the first half, and Harry Kane missed a chance to tie the game on a late penalty kick, as the defending World Cup champions outlasted England 2-1 in the quarterfinals at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar on Saturday. French midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni found the net in the 17th minute when he fielded a pass from Antoine Griezmann, and the 22-year-old of Real Madrid finished with a marvelous strike off his right foot and into the left corner of the net to make it 1-0. Kane netted the equalizer in the 54th minute on a penalty kick, and the two powerhouse teams seemed destined for extra time with the scored tied at 1-1.

A gorgeous Griezmann cross found Olivier Giroud in the 78th minute, however, as Giroud headed the ball into the left corner of the net in what turned out to be the game-winning goal. It was the fourth goal of the 2022 World Cup for Giroud – who became France’s all-time leading goal scorer after their quarterfinal victory over Poland – and it was also his fifth-ever World Cup goal, tying him for fourth in that category. France has now won 12 straight World Cup matches after scoring first, a remarkable record that stretches back to the turn of the 21st century. The victory was also the 11th World Cup win since 2018 for the defending champs.

Kane’s first penalty kick attempt gave him 53 total international goals for the Three Lions, tying him with English legend Wayne Rooney, but his chance to pass Rooney for the most all-time was thwarted when his attempt sailed high over the crossbar in the 84th minute of play.

England were the superior team in the final box score despite the loss, holding a 57% to 43% time of possession edge while also besting France in total shots (16 to eight), shots on goal (eight to five), and corner kicks (five to two). The English nearly doubled up France in expected goals as well (2.32 to 1.19), according to, in addition to finishing with the lead on accurate passes (442 to 307), accurate crosses (six to four), interceptions (eight to five), tackles won (10 to seven) and ground duels won (34 to 24). France’s defense hadn’t been called upon much in Qatar to this point, but they responded well in pressure moments here with a game-high five blocks, 15 clearances, and six goalkeeper saves by Hugo Lloris of Tottenham.

Kylian Mbappé, who entered the match with a World Cup-leading five goals scored, was muted for most of the contest by a clear effort from England’s defense to throw double teams and extra attention his way. Mbappé still leads the Qatar field with five goals scored, followed by teammate Giroud (four) and Argentina’s Lionel Messi (four) heading into the semifinal round.

Semifinals/Knockout Stage Schedule

Tuesday, Dec. 13

  • Who: Argentina (No. 3) vs. Croatia (No. 12)
  • When, where: 1 p.m. CT, Lusail Iconic Stadium (Lusail, Qatar)

Wednesday, Dec. 14

  • Who: France (No. 4) vs. Morocco No. 22)
  • When, where: 1 p.m. CT, Al Bayt Stadium (Al Khor, Qatar)

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