Deemed to be the last hope of the Arabs, the intense matchup between Morocco and Spain kicked off at Education City Stadium in Doha on Tuesday evening.
The game kicked off with heat as expected, with both teams eager to secure an early goal to get one step closer to the quarter finals.
A largely dominant Morocco crowd filled the 40,000 capacity stadium, which was flooded with the sounds of whistles and cheers according to whether Morocco was in possession or not.
An early Morocco free kick by Hakimi just outside of the penalty box sent chants spiking as a stunning curler went just wide of the net.
In possession, but not in charge
The Spaniards were then on the offensive, but found themselves unable to control the ball in the Moroccan box before the defence and goalkeeper scurried it away.
Despite this, Spain remained dominant in possession, with a whopping 81% in the lead up to the 20th minute.
Five minutes later, Spain had another real chance at goal but Gavi hits the crossbar. Moroccan defence quickly assembled in the net to block another attempt, just in time.
As half time whistle loomed closer, Morocco pressed harder, finding themselves in the box with beautiful crosses on two occasions.
The second half kicked off with less urgency from the Spaniards, though they were quickly put to the test by a determined Moroccan side.
At 54 minutes in, Spain took a free kick that was quickly boxed away by Bono. Moments later, Amrabat makes a dash for goal after the ball is passed to his feet before realising he is way offside.
The heat was increased on both ends with both teams battling to get the first notch on the scoreboard. Despite dominance in possession by Spain, Morocco appeared to be taking more chances.
No luck for Spain
However, the gameplay switched up in the lead up to the 80th minute with Spain hammering Moroccan territories. By this point, either the Spaniards had no luck, or an invisibility cloak was protecting the Moroccan goal.
Tensions rose in the last few moments, both on the pitch and in the stands as Morocco’s fans whistled at the Spaniards in what appeared to be an attempt to distract the players. The strategy seems to have worked, as a stunning Spanish curler went just wide seconds before extra time is called.
The stadium remained full as expected, though there was a clear feeling of stress as the players whizzed up and down the pitch in search of a goal.
At 103 minutes, Morocco looked like it was about to secure its seat at the quarter finals with slick gameplay by Cheddira who failed to finish.
Whistling continueed in the stands every time Spain captured possession.
In the end, it was an incredible penalty shootout that saw Spain missing the first two shots.
Morocco stunned the stadium with an incredible 3-0 win on penalties.
The Atlas Lions will now progress to the quarter-finals to face the winner of Tuesday evening’s clash between Portugal and Switzerland.