Morocco head coach Walid Regragui and his team had many reasons to celebrate Saturday. (Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports)
Morocco continued to shock the world and the World Cup Saturday, stunning favored Portugal to reach the semifinals in Qatar.
The Atlas Lions became the first African side to reach the final four of the competition, defeating the Portuguese and Cristiano Ronaldo, 1-0, in the quarterfinals at Al Thumama Stadium.
Morocco was forced to play the final five minutes of stoppage time with 10 men after second-half substitute Walid Cheddira was booked for his second yellow card in two minutes and was given his marching orders three minutes into injury time.
The Moroccans will meet the winner of the match between defending champion France and England, which was scheduled for later in the day.
For the second time in four days, Morocco ushered a European team out of the tournament. On Dec. 6 the northern African squad eliminated Spain in the Round of 16 via penalty kicks.
On Saturday, the Moroccans didn’t need extratime or a shootout to produce another shocking result.
Just before the halftime, the Africans struck.
Yahya Attiat-Allah lofted in a left-wing cross that Youssef En-Nesyri barely got to the ball before goalkeeper Diogo Costa and he headed the ball into an unattended net in the 42nd minute for a 1-0 lead.
Only three minutes later, Portugal came close to equalizing as Bruno Fernandes ripped a shot off the crossbar.
In an attempt to give Portugal attack more life, head coach Fernando Santos brought on Ronaldo in the 51st minute. Ronaldo, one of the greatest players of his generation who was participating in his last World Cup, could not find the magic to pull his side even.
Fernandes came close again in the 64th minute as he fired his try from outside the area just over the bar off a Bernardo Silva feed.
Ronaldo, one of the greatest players of his generation who was participating in his last World Cup, could not find the magic to pull his side even.
A minute into stoppage time he had a half-chance on the right side, but goalkeeper Yassine Bounou gathered in the ball before the legend could get a foot on it.
Seven minutes into added time, Portugal defender Pepe headed a close-range shot just wide of the mark on the left.