As It Happened: Spain and Morocco Tie 2-2 After A Stunning Match

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As It Happened: Spain and Morocco Tie 2-2 After A Stunning Match
Spain: (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Carvajal, Pique, Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Thiago (Asensio, min. 74); Silva (Rodrigo, min. 84), Isco, Iniesta; Diego Costa (Iago Aspas, min. 74)
Morocco: (4-2-3-1): El Kajoui; Dirar, Da Costa; Saiss, Hakimi; El Ahmadi, Boussoufa; Amrabat, Belhanda (Fajr, min. 63), Ziyach (Bouhaddouz, min. 85); Boutaib (En-Nesyri, min. 71).
SCORE: 0-1, min. 13, Boutaib. 1-1, min. 19, Isco, 1-2, min. 81, En-Nesyri. 2-2, min. 90+2, Iago Aspas
REFEREE: Ravshan Irmatov (UZB) Booked: El Ahmadi (min. 21), Amrabat (min. 29), Da Costa (min. 30), Boussoufa (min. 30), Munir (min. 88)
Spain
2 2
Morocco

It's been a pleasure following this match with you. I've been Jakub Bobro, and be sure to come back tomorrow for more World Cup coverage from VAVEL UK.

Spain will face Russia at Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday, Portugal will face Uruguay on Saturday in Sochi.

The result held, Morocco can leave Russia with their heads held high, but wondering what could have been had they scored in their previous matches. This has been an absolutely incredible two hours between the two matches, ending with heartbreak for Iran. 

An absolutely stunning match, Morocco must be happy with themselves! If the 1-1 result holds in Iran vs Portugal, Spain will top the group with 5 points based on more goals scored over Portugal.

Full time!

90+6: I failed to notice, but Hakimi got booked in the past few minutes. 

GOOAAAL!! VAR REVERSES THE OFFSIDE DECISION! AN ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE FINISH BY IAGO ASPAS!

90+1: Spain thought they caught Iran out with a quick corner as Iago Aspas scored with a backheel, but it was flagged offside. The goal is being reviewed by VAR.

4 added minutes!

88: The keeper Munir gets booked for time wasting on a goal kick.

87: Spain make a move forward, but Asensio can't redirect the cross on target.

84: Substitution: Rodrigo comes on for David Silva, meaning Iniesta will play the full 90. Hakim Ziyech comes off for Aziz Bouhaddouz, the player who scored the 94th-minute own goal against Iran.

81: The 21-year-old Youssef En-Nesyri beats Sergio Ramos in the air, and with a bullet header he beats De Gea as well. What an impact this substitute has made. 

GGOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!!!!! EN-NESYRI PUTS MOROCCO AHEAD AGAIN!!

80: Ziyach takes a shot first time after a cross and it hits Pique's hand. The hand was by the side, no penalty.

79: Morocco with a rare move forward in the second half, Spain have been in complete control. En-Nesyri takes a poor touch, and the move stops.

73: Substitution: A double change as Marco Asensio and Iago Aspas come on for Diego Costa and Thiago Alcantara. Hierro is looking for some fresh legs to give Spain the win.

71: Substitution: Youssef En-Nesyri makes his World Cup debut, coming on for Khalid Boutaib.

69: Thiago mishits a shot after a nice flick from Costa. Spain are just completely controlling play right now.

67: Some beautiful combination play between Isco and Silva, but the latter slips inside the box and can't get a shot away.

63: Substitution: Faycal Fajr comes on for Younes Belhanda.

62: Isco almost puts Spain ahead! He gets a header away, beats the keeper, but leave it to Romain Saiss to save the day! The centre half tracked back and cleared the ball for a corner.

61: Thiago and Silva go for a one-two to get inside the box, but can't do anything in the packed box.

57:  Morocco drive forward again! Dirar gets the ball into the box, plays it to Amrabat out wide who plays it back to him, but Dirar can't get a shot away.

55: Morocco with an unexpected chance! Amrabat seemed to be crossing the ball, but the ball swerves and hits the crossbar! This game is very much alive!

52: Spain get into another four-on-four, but Morocco defend it well, not letting Spain have a half chance.

50: Boussoufa got a chance for Morocco after a great cross, but De Gea punches it out.

49: Spain have been going for the same slow build up play as in the first half. Isco gets caught offside.

Morocco kick off the second half!

Morocco got their goal, they must be happy with their performance here. They made the game quite physical and somewhat succeeded in stifling the Spanish talent.

Halftime!

45+2: Iniesta squares the ball across the six-yard box, but Costa can't get enough contact to put it in the net.

45+1: Amrabat gets a bit risky as he goes into Busquets with two feet, no card.

2 added minutes!

40: Isco whips the free kick to the far post, looking for Busquets who can't get on the end of it.

37: Busquets gets a prime chance, but his header is poor and goes over the bar.

36: Isco puts a beautiful pass through to Iniesta without looking. Iniesta can't get the pass away, but the connection between the two seems almost Xavi-Iniesta-esque

34: Referee Irmatov runs into Boutaib and knocks him over. The two hug it out when the ball goes out.

30: Three cards for Morocco in the last two minutes! Da Costa gets booked for a goul, Captain Boussoufa gets booked as well for protesting.

29: Nordin Amrabat gets booked after an offensive foul on Ramos. Amrabat thought he was through, but was shown a yellow. These two have been on one another since the start.

27: Spain go forward again, but Costa's shot doesn't come off trickling behind him.

25: Spain get caught out with a long throw! Boutaib goes through on goal, De Gea a bit slow to come off his line, but Boutaib's final touch was too heavy.

24: Spain went four-on-four, Iniesta goes for a shot, blocked, and Costa can't find space in the box.

23: Pique rises above others for a header from a corner, but Munir saves it easily.

21: El Ahmadi gets booked after clattering Busquets.

19: A beautiful move from Iniesta and Isco, cutting through the Moroccan defense like a knife through butter. Smooth goal.

GOAAAAALL!!!! ISCO TIES IT UP!

18: Iniesta goes for a long shot, but mishits it.

I was wrong to say that Spain had the knockout stage locked down. They would be through right now, but would not be if Morocco score again.

14: Iniesta and Ramos have a misunderstanding, Boutaib intercepts, goes on a run through on goal, puts it between De Gea's legs. 

GOOOOOAAAAALL!!!!!! KHALID BOUTAIB PUTS MOROCCO AHEAD WITH THEIR FIRST GOAL OF THE TOURNAMENT!!!

11: Spain get a chance. Costa ties up two players in the corner, puts Silva through who crosses it in, but Iniesta can't get on the end of it.

8: Khalid Boutaib stays down after a tackle by Pique. There is some blood boiling early in this match.

7: Amrabat and Sergio Ramos get into a bit of a tussle, Diego Costa (of all people) calms it down.

4: Isco has the first chance of the match for Spain. Hit it a bit awkwardly, an easy save for Munir.

Diego Costa has kicked this match off!

Anthems are done, kick off is imminent!

Here come the anthems!

Teams are in the tunnel, 7 minutes until kick-off!

Renard replaced probably his best centre-half Mehdi Benatia with Romain Saiss, seemingly so his best three centre-halves get two games each. The rest of the lineup remains the same, looking for a goal.

Both teams go for one change each. Spain replaced Lucas Vazquez by Thiago Alcantara, going for a slightly more defensive formation than against Iran. It is obvious that Hierro does not want to rest his players, but rather instill confidence. 

Morocco XI (4-2-3-1): El Kajoui; Dirar, Da Costa; Saiss, Hakimi; El Ahmadi, Boussoufa; Amrabat, Belhanda, Ziyach; Boutaib.

Spain XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Carvajal, Pique, Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Thiago; Silva, Isco, Iniesta; Diego Costa

In this, essentially, dead rubber, predicting the team selections is near impossible, so I will spare myself the embarrassment.

Morrocco coach Herve Renard went off on the refereeing decisions in this World Cup, especially the injustices against his side: "When you look at the facts in the Portugal game, it's totally unfair. For the goal we conceded, there was an obvious foul by (defender) Pepe at the front post. Why did (the referee) not see it? Then there was a handball by Pepe, exactly the same as the one (that was given as a penalty) for Australia"

Spain have already qualified, but will want to solidify their case for the first position with a win. Fernando Hierro certainly wants his team to keep up the energy: "Sometimes people might relax in the third match, but we can't afford to relax. We need to be very much awake, with our eyes very much open, and we're aware that Morocco isn't going to give anything away. Anything that we win will be won through hard work and effort. But they deserve all our respect because it's a great team Morocco."

 

Kaliningrad Stadium was a new stadium built specially for this World Cup. The 33,000 seater was modeled on the Allianz Arena in Munich. This match will be the third of fourth played in Kaliningrad, ending the stadium's World Cup campaign with England against Belgium. After this summer, it will become the home of the Russian Second Division side FC Baltika Kaliningrad.

Morocco are a team that is definitely disappointed with their results, especially the 1-0 loss to Iran. Morocco looked unstoppable in the first half, but couldn't finish, losing on a 94th-minute own goal. They looked much better against Portugal, but still couldn't get a goal and lost 1-0 again. Havre Renard's men will just be looking for a goal as they are already eliminated.

I'm not sure that Spain can be satisfied with their results so far. Their tournament started with a fun 3-3 draw against Portugal. Then, Fernando Hierro's side labored to a 1-0 win over Iran. Spain did not control the game and Iran gave them a run for their money at some points. 

Morocco and Spain played each other in the 1962 World Cup Qualification Play-Offs, with Spain winning both legs back in 1961. Those two matches are obviously insignificant to the one taking place tomorrow as the surviving members of the squad are now in their 70s and 80s. Spain lined up with the legendary Real Madrid forwards Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano, neither Spanish by origin.

Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK's live minute-by-minute match coverage and commentary. Today, Monday, 25th June 2018, sees Spain face off with Morocco in the 2018 World Cup. This evening's game kicks off at 19:00 GMT, alongside Iran - Portugal. Until then - we'll have plenty of pre-match build-up and analysis from me, Jakub Bobro. Make sure you stay following.