Morocco let it slip against Spain in Kaliningrad

Morocco let it slip against Spain in Kaliningrad
epa06840103 Jordi Alba (C) of Spain in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group B preliminary round soccer match between Spain and Morocco in Kaliningrad, Russia, 25 June 2018.

by Austin Ditlhobolo

Monday Jun 25, 2018. 22:03

Spain drew 2-2 with Morocco in their last 2018 FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Russia on Monday.

As a result, the Red Fury reached the round of 16 after winning Group B, while the Atlas Lions were knocked out of the tournament having failed to win a game.

The Red Fury dominated the match from the start in search of an early goal and this forced Atlas Lions to defend in numbers.

However, it was Morocco, who broke the deadlock just 14 minutes into the game after Andres Iniesta over-hit his pass to Sergio Ramos in midfield and Khalid Bouitab stole the ball.

The lanky forward out-sprinted the Spain defence, before firing past goalkeeper David De Gea with a good finish from close range to hand Morocco a surprise 1-0 lead.

Spain then applied some pressure on the Morocco defence and they managed to level matters through Isco in the 19th minute.

The attacking midfielder beat Atlas Lions shot-stopper Munir Mohamedi from close range to make it 1-1 for Spain after receiving a delightful pass from Iniesta.

The Atlas Lions looked dangerous on the counter attack and they nearly restored their lead through their hard-running marksman Boutaib.

However, Boutaib was brilliantly denied by De Gea from close range following an attack against the run of play five minutes before the half-hour mark.

Spain continued to dominate possession and the last chance of the first-half fell for their target-man Diego Costa on the stroke of half-time.

Iniesta controlled the ball well, before squaring for Costa on the stretch, but the towering striker did not get enough on it from four yards out.

The score was 1-1 at the interval with Spain having dominated the first-half in Kaliningrad.

The Atlas Lions came back rejuvenated after their half-time team talk with their accomplished French coach Herve Renard.

Morocco nearly scored through Nordin Amrabat, whose thunderous long-range shot beat Dea Gea, but the ball hit the crossbar and Spain survived a scare 10 minutes into the second-half.

Spain then took control of the game and they were unlucky not to take the lead in the 63rd minute when Isco's goal-bound header was brilliantly cleared on the goal-line by Romain Saiss.

Renard reacted by making a change in the 71st minute as he pulled out Boutaib and he introduced Youssef En-Nesyri as Morocco looked to restore their lead.

En-Nesyri then made an immediate impact as he headed home Faycal Fajr's corner-kick to make it 2-1 to Morocco - stunning the Spain fans into silence.

Spain coach Fernando Hierro decided to pull out David Silva and he introduced Rodrigo, who is a striker by trade, as the Red Fury looked to snatch a late equaliser.

The European giants pushed for a late leveller and they got it through Iago Aspas, who scored with a good finish in the 90th minute to ensure that Spain and Morocco drew 2-2 on the night.

Spain (1) 2 (Isco 19', Aspas 90')
Morocco (1) 2 (Boutaib 14', En-Nesyri 71')

Spain: De Gea, Carvajal, Pique, Ramos, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Thiago (Asensio 74'), David Silva (Rodrigo 85'), Iniesta, Isco, Diego Costa (Aspas 74').

Morocco: Mohamedi, Dirar, Da Costa, Saïss, Hakimi, El Ahmadi, Boussoufa, N Amrabat, Belhanda (Fajr 63'), Ziyech (Bouhaddouz 85'), Boutaib (En-Nesyri 71').

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