Morocco pulled off a shock 2-0 win over Belgium in World Cup Group F on Sunday as Abdelhamid Sabiri scored from an audaciously tight angle and fellow substitute Zakaria Aboukhlal added a second in stoppage time.
Sabiri’s free kick from near the corner flag caught out Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois at the near post as it curled in for the 73rd-minute winner, securing only Morocco’s third victory at the World Cup finals.
Aboukhlal’s goal came on the counter-attack, set up by Hakim Ziyech as Belgium were caught pressing forward for the equaliser.
The North Africans also had the ball in the net with the last kick of the first half as Ziyech’s free kick eluded everyone in the penalty area and caught Courtois unsighted, but a VAR check found skipper Romain Saiss had been just offside.
Morocco moved on to four points from two games with Belgium on three. Canada and Croatia meet later in Sunday’s other Group F clash.
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In the build-up to Belgium’s 2-0 defeat against Morocco, Kevin De Bruyne conceded that his country’s so-called ‘Golden Generation’ was at an end, hinting that their chances of winning the World Cup were over even before the group stages were over.
The Manchester City midfielder said when asked about the claims of his nation being contenders for the ultimate prize in Qatar: “No chance, we’re too old. I think our chance was 2018. We have a good team, but it is ageing.”
On the evidence of the latest showing from Roberto Martinez’s side on Sunday, De Bruyne makes a valid point, as a squad loaded with household names lacks the spark required to chase down the most prestigious of honours.
Belgium looked leggy and short on ideas throughout, with Hakim Ziyech seeing a goal on the stroke of half-time ruled out for offside before Abdelhamid Sabiri repeated the trick from a free-kick midway through the second 45 as he fired through and beyond Thibaut Courtois, Zakaria Aboukhlal then grabbed a second for Morocco in stoppage-time.