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World Cup 2022: Morocco upsets Belgium, takes Group F lead

Morocco earned four points through two games at the 2022 World Cup and now leads Group F. Photo by Rungroj Yongrit/EPA-EFE
Morocco earned four points through two games at the 2022 World Cup and now leads Group F. Photo by Rungroj Yongrit/EPA-EFE

Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal each scored late in the second half to lead Morocco to an upset victory over Belgium at the 2022 World Cup on Sunday in Doha, Qatar.

The 2-0 win propelled Morocco to the top of Group F. The Moroccans drew with Croatia in their first game and now have four points.

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Belgium totaled three points through two games, all of which came from a win over Canada in their Qatar 2022 opener.

Croatia defeated Canada 4-1 in another Group F match Sunday afternoon in Al Rayyan, ending its hopes of advancing at its first World Cup in 36 years.

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Morocco, the No. 22 team in the world, and No. 2 Belgium played a scoreless first half Sunday in Doha. Morocco forward Hakim Ziyech made a free kick in first-half stoppage time, but that goal was disallowed due to an offside call.

Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois and Morocco goalie Munir Mohamedi each kept the ball out of their nets for most of the second half.

Sabiri then struck with a free kick goal from near the left corner flag in the 73rd minute. The midfielder used his right boot to whip the shot from right to left. It sailed over a crowd of defenders and dipped into the near post to beat a surprised Courtois for first blood.

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Aboukhlal added the final score in the 92nd minute. Ziyech dribbled into the box to spark that goal. He then beat defenders to the near post and sent a pass into the middle of the box for the striker. Aboukhlal used his first touch to rip a shot into the upper right corner of the net.

Belgium will battle Croatia in a Group F finale at 10 a.m. EST Thursday in Ar-Rayyan. Morocco will meet Canada in another Group F match at 10 a.m. Thursday in Doha.

World Cup 2022 begins in Qatar

Pedro Miguel of Qatar (L) moves the ball as Romario Ibarra of Ecuador defends during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Group A match at the Al Bayt Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on November 20, 2022. Ecuador beat Qatar 2-0 in the opening match. Photo by Chris Brunskill/UPI | License Photo

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