TANGIER, Morocco, March 25 (Reuters) - Sofiane Boufal and Abdelhamid Sabiri scored to give Morocco a 2-1 victory in a friendly match against Brazil in Tangier on Saturday, earning their first victory ever against the five-time world champions.
World Cup semi-finalists Morocco did not hold back and delivered a statement win against soccer powerhouse Brazil in their first home 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 an early run 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 were more aggressive and controlled possession while Morocco were always dangerous in the counter-attacks.
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.
Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou almost gifted Brazil a goal in the 22th minute with a comical mistake while trying to put the ball in play with his feet, but Rony’s shot to an empty goal was blocked by a defender and Bounou manage to recover in time to save Vinicius’ strike from the rebound.
One minute later, Bono once again made a mistake gifting the ball to Vinicius score to an empty goal, but the effort was ruled out by the VAR due to a controversial offside in the build, 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 didn’t waste the golden opportunity gifted by the defender, with Bilal El Khannous assisting Sofiane Boufal to score from close range.
Hakim Ziyech missed wide two great chances for Morocco before the break and goalkeeper Bounou denied a Rodrygo strike from the edge of the area with a Hollywood save.
But Brazil found the equalizer in the 67th minute thanks to a schoolboy 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 locals hit back 12 minutes later with substitute Abdelhamid Sabiri, who took down a lost ball inside the Brazilian box and unleashed an unstoppable strike which bounced off the crossbar into the net.
It was a goal that the team and fans needed to complete their celebrations.
Morocco, who became the first Arab team to reach the quarter-finals and the first African team to make the semis, once again pumped their supporters with pride after a World Cup run that spurred tears of joy across Africa and the Arab world.
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