Morocco have beaten Colombia 1-0 to advance to the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup in their first appearance at the tournament.
The Atlas Lionesses on Thursday took the lead with Anissa Lahmari in the dying stages of the first half and kept it till the end of the thrilling match played in Perth, Australia.
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In the other group match, two-time former champions Germany drew 1-1 with South Korea and were eliminated.
Morocco and Colombia each finished on six points in Group H, while Germany finished with four points and South Korea with one.
Colombia topped the group, bettering runners-up Morocco on goal difference.
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 3, 2023
The two teams generated chances in the first half, but it was only in stoppage time when Colombia’s Daniela Arias clumsily fouled forward Ibtissam Jraidi in the penalty area that Morocco had a genuine scoring opportunity.
Las Cafeteras keeper Catalina Perez dived to her left to stop Ghizlane Chebbak’s spot kick but midfielder Lahmari nudged the ball into the net in the ensuing goalmouth scramble.
Colombia dominated play in search of an equaliser after the break, with Daniela Montoya and Lorena Bedoya Durango getting shots away in the 59th minute.
Morocco goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi found herself in the thick of it again in the 72nd minute when she tipped teenage striker Linda Caicedo’s shot over the bar.
A frenzied finish saw end-to-end action, but the Arab nation held on to continue their fairytale start to their first World Cup campaign.
The two-time former champions and one of the pre-tournament favourites follow Brazil, Italy and Olympic champions Canada out of the competition in double-quick time.
“To be honest, it’s still hard to understand,” skipper Alexandra Popp, who scored the German goal and was their chief threat throughout, told German TV network ZDF.
“I still can’t quite understand what happened here.”
Morocco, who were thumped 6-0 by Germany in their opener before beating South Korea 1-0, move on to meet France in Adelaide and Colombia play Jamaica in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Moroccan fans have had plenty of celebrate with their national teams at the World Cup.
The Atlas Lionesses had created history just by qualifying, and then just by scoring their first win. Beating Colombia to knock Germany out of the tournament was completely unexpected for most.
Morocco’s men’s team also made World Cup history last year. In the 2022 men’s World Cup, the Atlas Lions advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 1986 and became the first African or Arab nation to reach a World Cup semifinal.
2022 & 2023 – Having reached the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup with their men’s team, Morocco are the second African nation to reach the knockout stages of successive men’s/women’s World Cups, after Nigeria in 1998 (men’s) and 1999 (women’s). Rise. pic.twitter.com/eDc4s3XAuv
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 3, 2023