Morocco are officially in the knockout rounds after a strong performance throughout the group stage. The team defeated Canada 2-1 on Thursday and won Group F after a win against Belgium and a draw against Croatia but them in a strong position. Hakim Ziyech scored the opening goal and Youssef En-Nesyri provided the game winner.
It was a dream start for the Moroccans, as Ziyech scored just four minutes into the match. The goal was crafted by poor play out of the back between Canada's Steven Vitoria at center back and Milan Borjan in goal. The two combined for a major gaff which drew Borjan out of position and Ziyech wisely chipped the keeper after his mistake.
Canada's slow start haunted them throughout the opening fifteen minutes of the match as struggled to get a foothold in the game. They eventually settled their way into the match but just as the group generated some rhythm, Morocco extended their lead.
En-Nesyri's game winner came from an alert counterattck by Morocco. Hakimi played a long ball though the right flank as En-Nesyri perfectly timed his run to split two defenders and executed a right footed shot near post.
Canada's Sam Adekugbe forced an own goal to nab a goal back for the team just before halftime. The left back made a darting run down the flank and his whipped ball into the box took a deflection off Moroccan defender Nayef Aguerd.
Neither head coach made any substitutions at the half and Morocco maintained tempo early in the second half. Brief moments in Canada's half fizzled over time and allowed the Maple Leafs to work themselves back into the match by winning set pieces. The extra effort by Canada turned Morocco's game plan into defensive organization and moments of pressure in order to kill off the game.
The victory means Morocco will face the second place team in Group E in the round of 16. All four teams in Group E have a chance to earn second place in the group stage. Either Spain, Costa Rica, Japan, or Germany will have a place in the knockout rounds against Morocco.