Morocco booked their place in the round of 16 by taking advantage of Canada’s blunders in a 2-1 win. This means they are the first African country in the tournament to top theirs. Isn’t that beautiful?
It’s Morocco’s first last-16 appearance at a World Cup since 1986. Ziyech wasn’t even part of this Morocco team, having controversially retired from the international game amid a feud with former coach Vahid Halilhodzic. On Thursday, though, he scored the goal that effectively sent his team to the round of 16, even if it came with a little help from Canada’s back line.
It took less than four minutes for Hakim Ziyech to open the scoring as he took advantage of a blunder from Canada’s back-line. Youssef En-Nesyri added another goal in the 23rd minute on a fantastic ball from Achraf Hakimi over Canada’s back-line, but John Herdman’s side pulled one back before half-time thanks to a Nayef Aguerd own goal. Despite Canada’s enthusiasm in the second half, the equalizing goal never came, although they did come close as a shot bounced near the line before being cleared away.
In winning consecutive World Cup matches for the first time, Morocco reached the knockout stages of the competition for just the second time (also in 1986). Canada has lost all six of its matches at the World Cup – the joint-worst 100% losing record in the competition along with El Salvador. Hakim Ziyech’s opener for Morocco after three minutes and 30 seconds was the second earliest goal scored for an African nation at the World Cup, after Asamoah Gyan against the Czech Republic in 2006 (68 seconds).