Spain (1-1-0, 4 points) vs. Morocco (0-0-2, 0 points)
Group B, Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
Final: Spain 2, Morocco 2, and Spain tops Group B
Spain survived a big scare to pull ahead at the last second and win Group B, advancing to the knockout round along with Portugal, which tied Iran. Morocco, despite a fabulous effort that took advantage of Spain’s sleepy defense all game, looked tired in the end and gave up a late goal in stoppage time to give Spain the edge in the group based on goals scored.
Spain advances to play Russia in the Round of 16. Portugal will take on Uruguay.
Confirmed – Goal, Spain!
A VAR review confirmed that Aspas was indeed onside for his quick flick of an equalizer.
Another header! En Nesyri heads an absolute bullet over Ramos and into the net off of Amrabat’s corner kick. Spain is still set to advance — Morocco would need to score again and Iran would have to equalize against Portugal — but what a win for Morocco this would be.
Marco Asensio and Iago Aspas come on for Deigo Costa and Thiago, both of whom were rather listless.
We have two near-goals for Spain pretty much back-to-back around the hour mark. First, Isco was on his way to scoring after heading a cross straight into the net, but Romain Saiss stepped in at the last moment to head it wide. Then, Gerard Pique headed the ball just a few inches wide off of a corner kick. Heady stuff.
One for the pipe
Morocco just came so close to taking a 2-1 lead in the 56th minute. Ambrabat curled a gorgeous shot right to the top corner of the goal and it just nicked the underside of the crossbar to bounce back out. What a goal that would have been. It would have served Spain right for their sloppy play this half.
Halftime: Spain 1, Morocco 1
The MVP of a fast-paced first half has to be Iniesta. The Spaniard ended the period by slipping up the left sideline and sending a gorgeous ball right across to forward Deigo Costa, who lunged to get a toe on the ball but couldn’t gain control. That was almost a good chance for Spain, whose forwards have been cracking along despite a sluggish defense. They look like they should be in the lead.
Lots of yellow cards
Four for Morocco alone, after M’bark Boussoufa and Sofyan Amrabat are booked.
Boutaib challenges again
Morocco are going for the jugular this game. A throw-in over Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique set Boutaib up for a nice look, but hesitates to much and allows David De Gea to catch up. This is a fun game.
Spain didn’t wait long for the equalizer. Just about five minutes after Boutaib’s goal, Andres Iniesta flicked a beautiful little pass to Isco, who took a touch and rocketed the ball from close range.
Khalid Boutaib finds some space to tap in a goal on a breakaway run for Morocco’s first World Cup goal since 1998. It’s fitting that Morocco was the first to break through — Spain wasn’t having as good of a game as they should have been considering how much they were controlling the ball. Morocco just needed a little bit of room.
A risky challenge
Spanish defender Gerard Pique goes at Khalid Boutaib with both feet for a challenge in the eighth minute. Pique ends up winning the ball, but that could’ve gotten him sent off. Replays show both feet were off the ground and the studs of his cleats were showing.
The starting lineups
There’s a pretty simple path to the Round of 16 for Spain here: Just don’t lose. La Furia Roja will advance with either a win or a draw against Morocco today, which would mark their fourth appearance in the knockout round in its last five World Cups. The only time they didn’t make it through the group stage was in 2014, when they were defending champs.
There is, in some ways, a lot at stake for both Spain and Morocco as the teams meet in Kaliningrad. It will be the last game of the group stage for each side, and the last chance to achieve quite opposite endeavors: Spain is looking to advance out of Group B after failing to make the knockout round at the 2014 World Cup. Morocco is looking for a win — or even just a goal.
Spain is currently tied atop Group B with Portugal, with identical goal differentials and goals scored, and a head-to-head draw. Iran is lurking right behind with three points after a tight win over Morocco, and faces Portugal simultaneously on Monday. A win or draw for Spain against Morocco would guarantee a spot in the knockout round. A loss could make things very complicated, and leave Spain counting on some help from Portugal, its longtime rival. Morocco, with no points and no hope to advance, is just looking to spoil Spain’s run and lift their fans back home.
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When: Monday, 2 p.m. Eastern.
How to watch on TV: FS1.
How to stream online: Fox Sports and the Fox Soccer Match Pass apps and FoxSportsGo.com.
How to watch in Spanish: NBC Universo
How to watch in Canada: Bell Media’s TSN and CTV networks, the TSN GO app and TSN.ca/live.
Spain (1-1-0, 4 points)
- Previous results: Drew 3-3 against Portugal; defeated Iran, 1-0.
- What’s at stake: A win or a draw and Spain is through. Spain needs to out-perform Portugal to win the group, although that could mean a more difficult matchup in the round of 16.
- Notable: After right back Dani Carvajal returned against Iran, Spain is dealing with no major injuries as it looks to push past the group stage.
- FIFA world ranking: 10. ELO world ranking: 2.
Morocco (0-0-2, 0 points)
- Previous results: Lost to Iran, 1-0; lost to Portugal, 1-0.
- Just pride for Morocco, which has already been eliminated. The Atlas Lions have lost seven of their last nine World Cup games.
- Notable: Morocco’s World Cup run has included no tangible offensive production and a troubling statistic: It has scored more own goals (one) than actual goals (zero) through two games. Aziz Bouhaddouz’s own goal led to Morocco’s 1-0 loss to Iran, and it came in the fifth minute of stoppage time. The last time a team did not score in all three of its group stage matches was in 2010, when both Algeria and Honduras failed to net a goal.
- FIFA world ranking: 41. ELO world ranking: 44.
Players to watch
Striker Diego Costa has three of Spain’s four goal in this World Cup, and he will be needed against the defensive-minded Morocco. If Morocco is to scratch the score sheet against Spain — which could go a long way in salvaging some pride before heading home — 31-year-old striker Khalid Boutaib may be responsible. Morocco’s defense has been clinical through two games, but the side has not been able to generate much offensive pressure. That won’t be any easier against Spain, but Boutaib is often at the center of Morocco’s fleeting pushes into the attacking third.
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