Today at the World Cup: Morocco find right mix and Portugal fire without Ronaldo


Spain-born Achraf Hakimi – one of 14 foreign-born players in the squad – produced an audacious Panenka to book the country’s first ever quarter-final as they won the shoot-out 3-0.

“Before this World Cup we had a lot of problems about the guys born in Europe and guys not born in Morocco and a lot of journalists said, ‘Why don’t we play with guys born in Morocco?’,” said Regragui, himself born in France, who also became the first African coach to lead a team to the last eight.

“We have shown that every Moroccan is Moroccan.

“What is good is that players are born in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium – every country has a football culture and we have created a mixture and I’m very happy with that.”

Swiss rolled over by Portugal

Ronaldo was relegated to the role of spectator as his replacement Goncalo Ramos marked his first Portugal start with a stunning hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Switzerland.

A quarter-final with Morocco was secured well before Ronaldo even made it onto the pitch – with 17 minutes to go with the score at 5-1 – and although he had a goal disallowed for offside he was upstaged by fellow substitute Rafael Leao’s brilliant late finish.

But the night belonged to 21-year-old Ramos, who opened the scoring in the 17th minute and completed his hat-trick with a cool dink over Yann Sommer.

The 39-year-old Pepe became the oldest goalscorer in World Cup knockout history while Raphael Guerreiro also found the net, with Manuel Akanji’s consolation briefly making it 4-1.

Dogged Bellingham ready for France

Jude Bellingham is ready for a scrap when England face France in the quarter-final on Saturday night.

The Borussia Dortmund 19-year-old man has been his side’s shining light and has drawn plaudits from all quarters for his performances in Qatar.

But for all his class he insists he still has the appetite for a fight.

“The way I was raised in football, you had to have that dog in you a little bit and I go into the games knowing every game’s a war and you’ve got to be up for it,” he said.

“Off the pitch I’m a nice guy but when I get onto the pitch, something kind of takes over me, to be honest.”

Mbappe misses training

Kylian Mbappe sat out training for France on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old, leading the race for the Golden Boot with five goals, was instead working in the recovery room as Les Bleus build up to Saturday’s clash.

Team-mate Olivier Giroud, France’s new all-time leading goalscorer with 52, believes the youngster will set landmarks of his own.

“We’ve not seen the best of him, I hope it’s going to come soon and he will beat all the records,” he said.

https://keep-your-pants-on.com/soccer/englands-route-to-the-world-cup-final-who-do-three-lions-play-if-they-beat-france/

Chaotic scenes precede Morocco win

Riot police, mounted officers and dogs were deployed amid chaotic scenes outside the Education City Stadium prior to Morocco’s win over Spain.

Security forces were seen dragging away at least three people as heated discussions took place between Morocco fans and security forces over access to a perimeter gate.

Police horses and dog handlers were also utilised in an attempt to control the crowd.

Eto’o apologises

Former Cameroon and Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o has apologised for what he described as a “violent altercation” on Monday night.

A video circulating on social media appears to show the 41-year-old kneeing a man in the head outside Stadium 974 in Doha.

“After the Brazil-South Korea match, I had a violent altercation with a person who was probably an Algerian supporter,” Eto’o, president of his country’s football federation, wrote on his social media channels.

“I would like to apologise for losing my temper and reacting in a way that does not match my personality.”

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Quarter-finals

Friday 9 December: Croatia v Brazil (1500 GMT, BBC 1); Netherlands v Argentina (1900 GMT, BBC 1)

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