Favorites Portugal of megastar Cristiano Ronaldo Saturday bowed out of the 2022 Qatar football World Cup after a 1-0 defeat against tournament revelation Morocco, the first-ever African team to make it to the semifinals.
Just before half-time, Youssef En-Nesyri outjumped keeper Diogo Costa and defender Ruben Dias to head home a high ball that ended up making history at the Al-Thumama Stadium, where a noisy crowd permanently jeered the European squad in support of underdogs Morocco, who will now face either England or France, who were to clash later Saturday.
This quarterfinal game most likely also marked the end of the 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo's dream of ever winning a World Cup. His entry in the 51st minute was met with a loud chorus of jeers, and the youngster Goncalo Ramos, the hat-trick hero of their 6-1 win over Switzerland in the previous round, was not up to that performance this time around.
With Portugal all out on a do-or-die quest for an equalizer, memories of The Netherlands clinching it against Argentina on Friday in the tenth and last minute of injury time floated around. Things took a turn for the worse for Morocco when Walid Cheddira was sent off in stoppage time after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession.
But poor finishing on one side and flawless goalkeeping by Yassine Bounou (also known as Bono) resulted in a lethal combination for the European squad.
The Qatar 2022 World Cup arguably featured four megastars: Lionel Messi is still in contention after tying Gabriel Batistuta Friday as one of Argentina's top scorers at FIFA's event with 10 goals each, while Brazil's Neymar and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo have already packed up.
It remains to be seen whether France's Kylian Mbappé -the best young player of the 2018 edition in Russia- can make it through. Picked best player of that event, Croatia's Luka Modric may still have his name added to the list.