Morocco, Portugal, England and France produced tense quarterfinals clashes on Saturday and entertained the fans thoroughly. While Morocco continued their inspiring run in this World Cup to emerge victorious over a quality Portugal side, France trumped England 2-1 to secure a semi-final berth.
The African side continued their defensive domination even in the quarterfinals as they didn’t let Portugal score even one goal. It was Youssef En-Nesyri’s header in the 42nd minute of the match that turned out to be the winning goal for them and in the process, Morocco became the first African side in the history of the World Cup to qualify for the semi-finals.
Apart from En-Nesyri, Morocco’s goalkeeper Yassine Bounou was seen in superb form as well. He made many brilliant saves in the match and stood like a rock in front of the posts. As for Portugal, their offense was completely shut down by the Moroccan defense.
It became so difficult for them that the Portuguese manager had to sub in Cristiano Ronaldo in the 55th minute of the match. But it didn’t improve anything for them as Morocco went into full-time with a 1-0 lead and thus made it to the final four. Ronaldo was seen in tears after the match and the entire football fraternity posted emotional messages for him on social media as this is likely his last World Cup.
The encounter between England and France also turned out to be a humdinger. Les Bleus took the lead in the match when midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni scored from long range in the 17th minute of the match. France also went into the half-time with a 1-0 lead but England got the equalizer soon as Harry Kane converted a penalty in the 54th minute of the game.
The two teams kept searching for the winning goal for more than 20 minutes after that until French forward Olivier Giroud headed a brilliant cross from Antoine Griezmann into the net in the 78th minute of the match. It was a crucial goal for France in the closing stages but their joy didn’t last for long as England got another penalty five minutes later. This time, however, Kane missed to score from the spot and that turned out to be the decisive moment of the match. France shut their defence down completely after that and went into full-time with a 2-1 lead.