The FIFA World Cup saw another upset as Morocco beat Belgium 2-0 in their Group F match here on Sunday. The defeat leaves Kevin De Bruyne and 2018 semi-finalist Belgium in danger of being knocked out at the group stage. This will probably be the last World Cup for many of the players in an aging squad that has yet to win a major title. Moroccan substitute Abdelhamid Sabiri gave his side the lead in the 73rd minute with a free kick from the left that went under the body of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
The second goal for the team was scored by Zakaria Abokhlal in stoppage time on Hakim Ziyech’s pass which hit the top of the net. Belgium, the world’s second-ranked team behind Brazil, had won their last seven group matches at the World Cup before this upset. It was Morocco’s first World Cup win since 1998 and third overall. Had Belgium defeated Morocco, it would have become the second team to qualify for the knockout stage, alongside defending champions France.
Belgium will now take on 2018 finalists Croatia in their all-important final group match, while Morocco face Canada. For Morocco, a first-half goal by Giyech was disallowed for offside. With Belgium trailing 0-1, coach Roberto Martinez brought forward Romalu Lukaku on as a substitute 10 minutes before the end of the match.
Lukaku is returning from a left thigh problem and has not played since October. Goals from Lukaku, De Bruyne and Eden Hazard helped Belgium reach the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia but lost to defending champions France. The Belgian team also impressed at last year’s European Championship, where they knocked out Portugal but lost to Italy in the quarter-finals. Italy won the title again.
Belgium struggled to a 1–0 victory over Canada in their opening match in Qatar. Belgium missed star striker Lukaku, who scored four goals in the 2018 World Cup and four in Euro 2020. Morocco played a goalless draw with Croatia in the first match and won here playing with the same confidence. This boosted their hopes of reaching the knockout round for the first time since 1986. The team reached the knockouts for the first time in 1986.