Source: IndiaToday.in UPDATED: June 26, 2018 02:40 IST
Iago Aspas’ 93rd minute goal salvaged a point for Spain in a tense Group B encounter against Morocco in Kaliningrad.
The match in which Morocco were easily the better side against a shaky Spanish defence, ended in a 2-2 draw and with some more questions raised over the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
With the draw and Portugal drawing against Iran as well in Saransk, Spain finished on top of Group B and will face Russia in the last 16 in the Luzhniki Stadium.
The first team eliminated from the World Cup following two 1-0 losses, Morocco began to play with the intensity that indicated they had every intention of returning home with a Spanish scalp and Khalid Boutaid put them ahead in the 14th minute.
Snatching the ball from Sergio Ramos in midfield Boutaid ran through alone and coolly slotted home between the legs of David de Gea for Morocco’s first goal of the World Cup and their first at the global showpiece tournament for 20 years.
The goal shocked Spain into action and Isco equalised for the 2010 world champions five minutes later, taking Andres Iniesta’s pass and crashing it into the roof of the net.
Spain nearly grabbed a second just before halftime when Iniesta fired a low pass across the goalmouth that a sliding Diego Costa just missed getting his foot to.
Morocco returned to the pitch with renewed purpose after the break, taking the play to Spain and Nordin Amrabat nearly gave the North Africans the lead in the 56th minute when his thunderbolt from 25 yards clanged off the far post and crossbar.
It was Spain’s turn to go close next as Morocco defender Romain Saiss cleared Isco’s header off the line.
With time running out Spain finally began to play with urgency but could not find the equaliser until Aspas struck and his goal was finally given after a long wait for VAR confirmation.
“We leave the World Cup with our heads held high,” Morocco midfielder Faycal Fajr said. “We gave everything, we defended our colours.
“People didn’t know Morocco before the World Cup we gave a good example, and now people know about Morocco.”
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