Morocco Outshine Woeful Belgium To Boost Last 16 Hopes. Morocco stunned Belgium with late goals from Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal in a World Cup that has been full of surprises.
Courtois made two mistakes on a day when Roberto Martinez’s team did not show up and were nullified by their own disorganisation and the zeal of bottom dwellers in Morocco.
He got away with the first one because Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick was ruled out by VAR – but he clearly ignored the caution.
He was accosted again in the second half by a similar strike, putting more pressure on manager Martinez as he continues to struggle to get his team into the knockout stages.
Belgium was unsatisfactory in their shaky 1-0 win over Canada, which propelled them to the top of Group F. It took Courtois’ flash reactions to get them through.
But here, against a Moroccan team that included Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech, former Wolves defender Romain Saiss, and former Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal, they were even shakier.
Only one attempt was on goal in the first half, and it was a weak one at that when right-back Thomas Meunier completed a three-man move including Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard, two superb footballers with expertise who really need to be performing better.
MOROCCO SHOCK BELGIUM AND LEAD GROUP F 😱 pic.twitter.com/QseVT3czs9
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 27, 2022
Morocco hardly made a scoring attempt, but that is to be expected when playing the No. 2 team in the world rankings. Even if they weren’t at their best, Belgium still needed to defeat the North Africans to advance to the round of 16 with a game remaining.
They were unable to do this, and for a brief period at the conclusion of the first half, they feared the worst when the weak opponent, who had never advanced past the group stage, unexpectedly gained the lead.
Three yards from the left-hand corner of the Belgian box, wideman Ziyech was fouled. He personally took the free kick and blasted an inward shot that curled past the wall. It rounded every corner, just to wriggle beneath the plodding Courtois’ body and across the finish line.
All his good work against the Canadians last Wednesday looked undone until Mexican ref Cesar Ramos was directed to his pitchside screen and noted a narrow offside against ex-Molineux man Saiss.
The second half saw little improved performance, with Boufal coming close to scoring with a blazing hot shot from across the face of the goal that whistled past Courtois’ left-hand post.
Hazard was altered on the hour mark as part of a double substitution that included Leicester’s Youri Tielemens, who came on to give Belgium some life.
But things only got worse when Courtois fumbled his second set piece of the match. With 17 minutes remaining, midfielder Abdelhamed Sabiri attempted a free-kick from a similar position as in the first half.
Instead of attempting to cross, he took a risk and sent a shot towards the near post that Courtois had left open and was unable to stop in time. Morocco surged forward in stoppage time, and Ziyech’s deft cutback found Zakaria Abouhlal, who drilled in goal number two to enflame the Africans’ bench.