Moroccan fairy tale ends at the hands of France

Morocco’s brave and spirited fairytale march ended at midnight on Wednesday at the hands of an efficient France. The world champions put on a no-nonsense demonstration of clinical football to end one of the most romantic stories in a World Cup. It wasn’t a cruel end, as for much of the game the North African team matched the French, who had to dig deep into their reservoir of experience to finish the game.

The final moments were heartbreaking, Moroccan players lay flat on the ground, in a fountain of tears and sweat, the French wrapped them in an embrace of comfort. Olivier Giroud would hug Moroccan coach Walid Regragui, with whom he has played in the French league. Kylian Mbappรฉ would pacify Achraf Hakimi.

But it was brutal because both goals were scored by deflections from Moroccan bodies, both by Mbappรฉ’s strikes. Those deflections could have gone anywhere, but to their misfortune, it fell on the route of unmanned Frenchmen. Yet it was paradoxical, equally sadistic. that the first goal came from an unusual defensive error.

Rafael Varane swung a pass to Antoine Greizmann from near the halfway line, but couldn’t give him enough power to reach him. It looked like Jamad El Yamiq had the ball, but he slipped clearing the ball and Griezmann pushed through. The playmaker took a step and floated over to Mbappรฉ, who had his first shot blocked by Sofyan Amrabat, but clung to the rebound as he blasted into goal. But again another Moroccan shirt got in the way. But the ball fell in the path of Theo Hernandez. But the ball bounced awkwardly in front of him. The left back rode the bounce calmly, wrapped his left foot over it and swept the ball into the nets, past the wrong Bono. It was the first time that an opposing player broke through Moroccans’ defense and determination in this tournament.

The stadium was enveloped in silence for a moment. The cheerful Moroccan supporters were shocked into silence. But they restored the sound as their team recovered defiantly, not icy like the Croats recently. With measured aggression they strode forward and neatly found the equalizer when Azz-Edine Ounahi struck a vicious swing that Hugo Lloris had to stretch out. fur to nullify the danger. The game, as feared when Morocco chose a three-man defence, suddenly became more lively, buzzing with a frenzied rhythm. Olivier Giroud could have doubled the lead with a left-footed rocket from the outside of his feet that deflected a little too much to hit the crossbar.

Morocco quickly made a semi-tactical, semi-forced substitution, replacing captain and centre-back Romain Saiss, who was limping, with Selim Amallah, switching to a more dynamic 4-3-3. They did manage to stretch the French defenses with their verve and quick passing, but they were susceptible to counter-attacks. And they were as France exposed them on a few occasions, not least when Giroud crossed a well-weighted pass from Kylian Mbappรฉ. The latter didn’t have too many shots on target, but his presence was immense. His pace shocked them and they panicked, and in trying to contain them they lost their defensive form. Just two minutes into the second half, there was a war of attrition as he overshot Achraf Hakimi, his friend at PSG and Amrabat, like a plane over a helicopter. They weren’t chasing his shadows, but the shadow of his shadow, but Mbappรฉ’s cut of the byline was exaggerated. Though he came up with the second goal, he burst through some defenders on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot again ricocheted off a Moroccan, this time Abdessamad Ezzalzouli. And if it pleased Kolo Muani to shoot home, which he did flawlessly.

But a half-time phase, Morocco was burning and burning towards the end of the first half, as they sliced โ€‹โ€‹open the French defense and landed a pair of free-kicks in dangerous areas. But the equalizer failed to materialize, although Youssef En-Nesyri unpacked a spectacular scissor kick that Lloris tapped on the post with his fingertips. The defense had to make last-minute saves, but they held on steadfastly. Even surrounded by Moroccan shirts, Varane would keep his cool and make that decisive ball or tackle that Morocco denied. Ibrahima Konate too had a busy, no-nonsense shift, and often there was always Griezmann, shielding them, sweeping them, in front of them, behind them, enjoying the love and freedom he gets when he wears the blue shirt of France.

But Morocco, creditably, did not give up, a testament to their conviction. The first semifinalists, though never, surrendered; they fought on, with hope and courage in their game, the legion of supporters bathing, applauding and singing. They hid their pain and fear, tears and doubts and swelled after them. But it all ended when Kolo Muani multiplied the lead in the 79th minute,

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Nevertheless, Morocco enriched the World Cup with their skills, the enthusiastic fans and the celebrations with their parents. Their night ended in tears and heartbreak, but they will be remembered, and their best may be yet to come. They lost to a team entrenched in the know-how of winning championships, seizing moments and twisting the knife. Even in their defeat, they shone brightly in the pitch black sky of Al Bayt.

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