Sat, 04 Feb 2023

Morocco Subs Strike Late to Earn Shock Win Over Belgium

Voice of America
28 Nov 2022, 04:07 GMT+10

DOHA - Abdelhamid Sabiri scored from an audaciously tight angle and fellow substitute Zakaria Aboukhlal added a second in stoppage time as Morocco pulled off a shock 2-0 win over Belgium in World Cup Group F on Sunday.

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 equalizer.

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.

Costa Rica 1, Japan 0

Japan squandered an opportunity to advance early to the World Cup last 16 after Keysher Fuller's goal 10 minutes from time gave Costa Rica a surprise 1-0 win in a match in which they had barely any chances.

Costa Rica's Keysher Fuller, left, and teammates celebrate after their win in the World Cup, group E soccer match between Japan and Costa Rica, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Nov. 27, 2022. Costa Rica's Keysher Fuller, left, and teammates celebrate after their win in the World Cup, group E soccer match between Japan and Costa Rica, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Nov. 27, 2022.

The Samurai blue failed to ride the momentum of their shock win over Germany and will rue missed opportunities after showing little creativity against a Costa Rican side who defended resolutely after their 7-0 drubbing by Spain last time out.

Against the run of play, in Costa Rica's only effort on target in the entire match, Fuller curled a shot from the edge of the area beyond the reach of keeper Shuichi Gonda and into the net, leaving Japan stunned.

Japan battled hard to salvage something from the game but smuggled to create space and panicked in the dying moments.

The result left Japan with a tough challenge to advance to the knockout stages, with Spain their final Group E opponents on Thursday.

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