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FIFA WC: Resilient Morocco lead Portugal 1-0 at halftime
Al Thumama: Morocco edged closer to becoming the first African nation to qualify for the last four after leading Portugal 1-0 at the end of the first half in the quarterfinal of the World Cup at the Al Thumama stadium on Saturday.
A resilient Morocco found the back of the net through Youssef El-Nesyri in the 42nd minute. The forward went airborne and headed the cross from Attiyat Allah to give his side the advantage. Morocco took the lead thanks to a stunning Nesyri header, and are only 45 minutes away from making history. Portugal had a couple of chances and Bruno Fernandes almost equalized in the dying minutes of the half but his kick hit the crossbar.
Portugal's penalty claim was disallowed shortly after Morocco found the lead. The game sprang to life in the closing five minutes of the first half, and everything is on the line in the second half.
The sides met only for the third time with Morocco edging Portugal in the 1986 World Cup while the European side took the honours in the second meeting through Cristiano Ronaldo's goal in the 2018 edition.
Portugal started the game by keeping the ball in the Moroccan half and asserting dominance right from the beginning but Morocco showed resilience in defence and looked to make the most of their attacking chances.
The European side were relentless in their attack but the African nation was up to the task as they forged a solid defensive line to stop the Portuguese wave of attack.
Hakim Ziyech, Morocco's most impressive player in the tournament, was once again a live wire in the field as he created chances for his team.
Portugal started without their talismanic striker Ronaldo and it will be interesting to see if he is brought onto the field as he was the difference between the two sides in their previous meeting. The forward will be itching to prove his mettle after having been left out of the starting eleven.
The stadium is engulfed with a sea of red and green as both the colours feature on the jerseys of Portugal and Morocco. An electric second half is on the cards for football lovers all around the globe. (ANI)