Morocco through after shootout drama

November 22, 2023 5:07 am

[Source: FIFA World Cup U17]

Morocco scored a stoppage-time equaliser then beat IR Iran in a penalty shootout to secure a place in the FIFA U-17 World Cup quarter-finals.

Iran’s Hesam Nafari missed from the spot before Morocco goalkeeper Taha Benrhozil saved a twice-taken kick from Kasra Taheri. That gave Fouad Zahouani the chance to win it for the Atlas Cubs – and he duly smashed his penalty home to spark scenes of wild celebration.

Esmaeil Gholizadeh’s superb second-half header looked to have sent Iran through but a powerful volley from Nassim Azaouzi sent the game to penalties.

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After a tense, cautious opening period, Morocco started the second half the stronger. Mohamed Hamony – who again was the Atlas Cubs’ most dangerous player – forced a stunning save from Iran goalkeeper Arsha Shakouri with a sweetly-struck curling effort from just inside the box.

Against the run of play, Iran hit the front on 73 minutes when Gholizadeh met an inviting cross from Nima Andarz with a precision header which went in off the post.

Morocco came within a whisker of a leveller when Amirmohammad Razaghinia’s thunderous free-kick hit the crossbar – but Azaouzi made no mistake when he lashed home on the volley soon after.

On we went to penalties, where Morocco stopper Benrhozil was the hero to send his team through to the last eight. They will face Mali in Surakarta on Friday.

Goals: Esmaeil Gholizadeh (73); Nassim Azaouzi (90+4’)

Player of the match: Taha Benrhozil (MAR)