Al Rayyan [Qatar], December 7 (ANI): Following his side's win over Spain in their round of 16 FIFA World Cup match, Morocco manager Walid Regragui praised goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, calling him "one of the best goalkeepers in the world" and added that the side had the belief of coming out victorious in penalties with him guarding the net.
Morocco knocked out 2010 World Cup winners Spain, thrashing them 3-0 in a penalty shootout to storm into the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup at the Education City Stadium on Tuesday in a crucial round-of-16 clash.
Morocco manager Walid Regragui was quoted as saying by Sky Sports: "They knew they were going to make us run, that is what we were talking about before the match. We were patient, we wanted to try and win the game before penalties, but we knew if it went to penalties we have one of the best goalkeepers in the world and had a good chance of winning."
"We did have chances but, typically, as Spanish teams do, they kept the ball very well. We fought for it and we have a lot of injured players - we have had injured players since the beginning of the tournament - and that's why it is even more of a tremendous achievement."
"If you told me at the beginning of the tournament that we would play against all these top teams without losing a match and without letting in a goal, I would have signed straight away. I have got a tremendous group of players, they have respected the instructions to the letter and I do not know how far we are going to go now," concluded Walid.
Spain started the match dominating as they controlled the initial minutes with greater possession. Morocco was awarded a free-kick in the 19th minute with Sergio Busquets committing a foul. The free-kick taken from 25 yards did not yield a goal as the ball went over the bar, failing to dip enough.
Marco Asensio made a brilliant run for the Moroccan box in the 26th minute blazing past the defenders but could not convert his attempt at the goal as he was bound by a tight angle and was able to only find the side-netting.
Morocco made an attempt through Noussair Mazraoui in the 33rd minute as the player tried to score through a long-range kick but was kept at bay by the Spanish goalkeeper.
Spain looked to attack at any opportunity they found but the Moroccan defence kept their cool and defended superbly to avoid the 2010 champions from taking the lead. '
The Morocco players did find themselves within close range of the Spanish goal a few times in the dying minutes of the half but were unable to convert their chances.
A spirited effort from the Moroccans saw them keeping at par with the 2010 World Cup winners as the half ended with a scoreline of 0-0.
The second half saw both teams raising the bar and turning on the heat as they looked to take the lead, which had eluded them in the first half. The game got more intense with every passing minute.
Dani Olmo created the first chance for Spain as he hit on target from the free kick but Bono saw that the ball didn't let the ball find the back of the net.
Spain upped the ante by pushing forward in the hope of a goal but the resolute Moroccan defence stood like a wall to deny the Spanish team the lead.
Both teams produced moments of brilliance in the game but none could find the net as the second half also ended 0-0, with the game extending into extra time.
Spain and Morocco were unable to break the deadlock in spite of an additional 30 minutes of play as both teams failed to grab their chances to score. The game went into the penalty shootouts to decide the winner.
Morocco scored on their first kick through Sabiri but Spain's Sarabia found the post to help Morocco take the lead. Ziyech scored for Morocco again to give the African nation a 2-0 lead. Spain faltered again as Soler failed to put the ball past the keeper.
The score read 2-0 in the favour of the Moroccans and it looked like they would seal the game through the next kick but Simon kept Spain in the game as Badr Benoun missed to score.
Sergio Busquets had a lot riding on his shoulders as Spain looked to score their first goal but the captain was unable to find the goal with Bono making yet another safe.
Achraf Hakimi took the fourth kick for Morocco and placed his team in the quarter-finals as he scored through a Panenka kick. (ANI)