|Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick on his World Cup debut. — AFP/VNA Photo.
HÀ NỘI — The last eight of the 2022 World Cup has been confirmed, but with the shocking absence of the 2010 World Champions.
Spain were eliminated in Tuesday's knockout match against Morocco, after 120 minutes of deadlock that led to a penalty shootout.
Spain, despite having around seventy per cent possession and having made more than 800 passes, were troubled by the tight Moroccan defence.
Spain's only real chance came for Marco Asensio, who fired it over the bar in the 26th minute. Luis Enrique brought on Alvaro Morata and Nico Williams in the second half but to no avail.
Morocco was not only good in defence, but they were also deadly on the counter. Chances for the North African team were more abundant and had Hakimi, Mazraoui, Aguerd and Cheddira converted, the pain could have come sooner for Spain.
Yaccine Bounou, who was shaky in the first half, was Morocco's unlikely hero. The goalkeeper, currently playing in Spain for Sevilla, denied Olmo, Morata and Nico Williams in the second half and in extra time.
When the game nearly reached the shootout, Pablo Sarabia was subbed in by Enrique late in extra time for penalties. The veteran could have ended the match in the final minute, but his volley hit outside the post.
Sarabia's bad luck transferred to the penalty shootout, where he was the first taker. His shot hit the same side of Bounou's post, and Sarabia hung his head in shame.
While Badr Benoun was the only Moroccan to miss a penalty, both Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets's penalty were saved by Yaccine Bounou, who earned himself the man of the match award. The Moroccan shockingly progressed, winning 3-0 on penalties.
Their Iberian neighbour, Portugal, had a different fortune owing to a different playstyle.
Portugal's coach, Fernando Santos, benched superstar and captain Cristiano Ronaldo after a dismal performance against South Korea.
Santos' decision was criticised by many, including Ronaldo's sister. But opinions were immediately reversed when his replacement, Goncalo Ramos, stunned the world with the first hat trick in Qatar in his first senior game for Portugal.
Ramos had his first chance in the 17th minute and scored in his first attempt with an excellent shot that beat Yann Sommer at the near post.
Ronaldo's replacement as captain, Pepe, also made his mark when the 39-year-old centre-back headed in Portugal's second in the 33rd minute.
Although having gone two goals ahead, Portugal's star-studded attack was hungry for more. Ramos scored his second and Portugal's third in the 51st minute from an easy tap-in through Sommer's legs.
Four minutes later, a one-two play put Raphael Guerreiro through, and the Borussia Dortmund player's shot was too powerful for the Swiss keeper.
Ramos completed his hat-trick in the 67th minute from a similar passing play. He became the second youngest player to score a hat-trick at a World Cup knockout game, after Pelé.
Manuel Akanji got one back for Switzerland in the 58th minute, but the game was out of the Swiss' hands by then.
Ronaldo was subbed in the 73rd minute but did not make a significant impact. Another substitute, Rafael Leao, however, scored a 17-metre screamer and capped off an emphatic victory for Portugal.
Portugal will face Morocco in the quarterfinals on Saturday, with the winner facing England or France in the semis. — VNS