By Monica Iheakam
Morocco pulled off a stunning 1-0 victory that shook the foundations of Qatar to become the first African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final leaving Ronaldo and his Portuguese team mates in tears .
In an incredibly cagey affair at the Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday, Youssef En-Nesyri’s header in the 42nd minute proved to be the difference.
The Atlas Lions have without doubt been the big surprise package of this World Cup, having topped their group ahead of Croatia and Belgium and knocked out Spain and Portugal, sides that had recorded 7-0 and 6-1 wins earlier in the tournament.
The north African side’s supporters populated most of the venue and joyously celebrated their breakthrough moment for their continent on the global stage.
Ronaldo came off the bench in the 50th minute to equal the men’s all-time appearance record of 196 in international matches, but he could not drag his side back into the contest.
Morocco were happy to play on the counter and grabbed the opener just before the break when En-Nesyri headed in from Yahya Attiyat-Allah’s cross.
Portugal skipper Bruno Fernandes came close to levelling just minutes later but a brilliant individual effort struck the crossbar.
Decimated by injuries, Morocco sat back for the majority of the second half and Yassine Bounou brilliantly tipped over Joao Felix’s drive – the closest they came to an equaliser.
Morocco striker Walid Cheddira was sent off for a second yellow card in eight minutes of additional time but Portugal could not find the equaliser as their last-four hopes were dashed.