Sofiane Boufal and Abdelhamid Sabiri scored to give Morocco a 2-1 friendly win over Brazil in Tangier on Saturday, earning their first victory against the five-time world champions.
World Cup semi-finalists Morocco did not hold back and delivered a statement win against FIFA’s top-ranked side in their first game after an outstanding Qatar 2022 campaign.
Cheered on by 65,000 fans in a sold-out Ibn Batouta Stadium in Tangier, Morocco tried to make a quick start but a steady Brazil held strong and the match almost turned into an ill-tempered affair, with the Brazilian players complaining bitterly to the referee after a series of bad tackles by the local defenders.
Brazil was more aggressive and controlled possession while Morocco was always dangerous on the counter-attack.
Palmeiras winger Rony, who was making his debut in his first call with the Brazilian team, missed a sitter from close range in the 13th minute.
One minute later, Bounou once again made a mistake by gifting the ball to Vinicius Junior who finished into an empty goal, but the effort was ruled out by the VAR due to a controversial offside in the build-up, with the Brazilian players berating the Tunisian official Sadok Selmi.
In the very next play, Emerson Royal lost the ball close to his own box and Morocco did not waste the golden opportunity gifted by the defender, with Bilal El Khannous assisting Boufal to score from close range.
Hakim Ziyech missed two great chances for Morocco before the break and goalkeeper Bounou denied a Rodrygo strike from the edge of the area with an acrobatic save.
But Brazil found the equaliser in the 67th minute thanks to another mistake by Bounou, who failed to hold on to a weak shot by Casemiro and let the ball slip under him and inside the net.
However, the hosts hit back 12 minutes later with substitute Abdelhamid Sabiri, who took down a lost ball inside the Brazilian box and unleashed an unstoppable strike that bounced off the crossbar into the net.
Morocco, who became the first Arab team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals and semi-finals, once again pumped their supporters with pride after a historic run in Qatar that spurred tears of joy across Africa and the Arab world.