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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Morocco stuns Belgium with two late goals, sets up Group F chaos


DOHA, Qatar – The latest shock of a World Cup filled with them threw Group F into chaos on Sunday, as Morocco stunned world No. 2 Belgium, 2-0, thanks to a pair of dramatic goals from Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal

Spurred by a passionate crowd at Al Thumama Stadium, Morocco pushed itself to the brink of qualification for the round of 16 – a tie against Canada on Thursday would make sure of it – as an underdog roared once more

Belgium, regarded as a solid outside pick of the tournament and with a stacked squad seen as that country’s golden generation, was unable to capitalize on the possession dominance and came unstuck uncharacteristically as the second-half wore on. 

Sabiri whipped in a free kick from the left and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, off his line, was unable to prevent it from spinning into the net. 

Morocco’s Abdelhamid Sabiri scores goal vs. Belgium in 73′ | 2022 FIFA World Cup

Watch Morocco’s Abdelhamid Sabiri scoring a goal against Belgium in the 73′ in the 2022 Men’s FIFA World Cup.

Desperate to fight their way back into it, Belgium got caught out late. Pressing men forwards, they were hit on the counter as Hakim Ziyech controlled the ball expertly and slid it to Aboukhlal, who made no mistake from close range. 

The other teams in the group, Croatia and Canada were due to clash later on Sunday, but whatever the result in that match, it sets up a mouthwatering final day of action, with the growing likelihood that either Belgium or Croatia – runner-up four years ago – will be headed for an early exit from the competition. 

“It’s a difficult result because the first goal affected the outcome a lot,” Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez said. “It’s a dead-ball situation, we couldn’t get our game going and it’s a game that we need to understand. We need to be together and react in the next game. That’s what happens in the World Cup.” 

Other shocks in the first week included Saudi Arabia’s triumph over Argentina and Japan’s win against Germany.

Belgium vs. Morocco Highlights | 2022 FIFA World Cup

Morocco won its first World Cup match since 1998.

Read more from the World Cup:

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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