Wild euphoria has erupted after Morocco defeated Spain in a major upset to progress to the World Cup quarter finals for the first time in its history.
The north African country shot down Spain 3-0 on penalties after a goalless draw.
In a major disappointment for Spain, the Red Fury missed all three penalties in a disastrous shootout.
It was the third successive major tournament in which Spain has been beaten on penalties following the 2018 World Cup and the Euros in 2021.
Morocco will next face the winner of Wednesday’s clash between Portugal and Switzerland.
Meanwhile, in what has been called a humiliation for Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal benched the superstar for the start of its crucial match.
The legendary goalscorer was forced to watch from the sidelines as the game started on Wednesday morning (Australian time).
Moroccan players celebrate with Achraf Hakimi after his crucial final penalty kick. Photo: Getty
Morocco’s winning penalty was converted by Achraf Hakimi, who was born in the Spanish capital, Madrid.
“We were unable to score … so no matter how much we say that we deserved to win… it is not going to change anything,” Spanish keeper Unai Simon, who saved one penalty, said.
“The only thing left for us is to accept that we have been eliminated.”
“We completely dominated the match, it’s a shame it went that way,” Spain manager Luis Enrique added.
The Atlas Lions are the first African team into the quarter-finals since Ghana in 2010, with only Senegal (2002) and Cameroon (1990) having done so previously.
“We fought and made the Moroccan people happy, we made history and Morocco deserve it, Moroccan people made us united on the pitch,” coach Walid Regragui said.
Morocco was not just the last Arab or African team left, it was the only nation from outside the customary European-South American axis that has dominated the World Cup throughout its 92-year history.
But the Moroccans, though in the last 16 for the first time since 1986, were not wide-eyed naifs.
All the starting XI play for European clubs, including giants such as Paris St Germain (Hakimi), Chelsea (Hakim Ziyech) and Bayern Munich (Noussair Mazraoui).
Outside the ground, after ticketless fans attempted to force access to previous Morocco games, there was heavy security, with rows of riot police on foot, with dogs, and on horseback.
On several occasions they intervened as supporters tried to break through the cordon.