FIFA World Cup: Canada leaves Qatar winless after losing 2-1 to Morocco – National

Canada dug an early hole in itself on Thursday and was unable to find a way out despite a late wave, going out of the World Cup winless for the second time in 36 years after a disappointing 2-1 loss to Morocco.

Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri scored for No. 22 Morocco, who took advantage of Canada’s atrocious defense to lead 2-0 after 23 minutes. Canada conceded an own goal from Nayef Aguerd to cut the lead to 2–1 at halftime.

The Moroccans poured onto the pitch at the final whistle, having secured their spot at the top of Group F and a place in the round of 16.

The Canadians in 41st gave the ball away at will and were second best to the speedy, opportunistic Atlas Lions, whose counterattack rocked Canada in the first half.

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Canada coach John Herdman switched the field from no jacket to Canada tracksuit to suit jacket as he tried to find a winning combination both on and off the field. But there was little flow in the Canadian attack until he began to switch on the hour.

That led to a wave of pressure in Canada, with Morocco barely holding out. The Canadians came oh so close in the 71st minute when substitute Atiba Hutchinson’s header from a corner hit the crossbar and bounced to the ground untouched, but didn’t quite cross the goal line.

Hutchinson, in his 101st appearance for Canada, held his head in disbelief as Moroccan fans exhaled behind the goal.

Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou nearly lost control of the ball in the 87th minute, but held on to avoid disaster and the Atlas Lions survived four minutes of stoppage time – with Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan closing in for a corner as fans turned their sides roared.

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The Canadians close the tournament with zero points, after losing 1-0 to number 2 Belgium and 4-1 to number 12 Croatia in their first two games.

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And while the Canadians earned kudos for their performance against Belgium and Alphonso Davies scored a first-ever goal in the men’s football showcase in Croatia’s fixture, they exit the tournament to earn another result in two trips to the World Cup.

Canada went 0-3-0 at the 1986 tournament in Mexico, losing 1-0 to France and 2-0 to both Hungary and the Soviet Union.

The Davies goal proved to be a bow to a World Cup show going downhill after a good start.

Number 12 Croatia also advanced after drawing 0-0 with number 2 Belgium in the other Group F match, which started at the same time 25 kilometers to the northwest at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan.

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Morocco started with a run of 16 passes from kick-off, resulting in a cross through the Canadian penalty area. Then things got worse for Canada.

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Having scored in 68 seconds in the last time out of the game against Croatia, it was Canada that got off to the disastrous start this time after defender Steven Vitoria misfired an attempted back pass in the fourth minute.

Borjan came out of his penalty area as En-Nesyri steamed towards him. But instead of getting the ball to safety, Borjan seemed to be in two minds: pass or clear. Instead, the ball darted straight to Ziyech, who fired it into goal from distance as Borjan desperately tried to race back to his goal line.

Borjan put his hands on his hips and turned away in disgust as FIFA President Gianni Infantino gave a bewildered smile from his box.

Canada was involved in the first two goals in the opening five minutes of the tournament.

En-Nesyri doubled their lead in the 23rd minute after a long ball from Paris Saint-Germain fullback Achraf Hakimi split the Canadian defence. The Sevilla striker was quicker than Vitoria and Kamal Miller, controlling the ball with his left foot and beating a diving Borjan under the arm with a low shot from his right.

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Sam Adekugbe threw Canada a lifeline in the 40th minute, beating a defender down the left flank and firing a ball on target which ricocheted off Aguerd’s outstretched foot past Bounou.

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Morocco defeated Canada 8-2 (3-0 in shots on target) in the first half.

Morocco leveled Croatia 0-0 before upsetting Belgium 2-0 and went into Thursday’s game knowing a win or a draw would send them to the round of 16 for the second time in six World Cup appearances .

For the Canadian men, the runway now begins for a home World Cup with Canada, Mexico and the US co-hosting an expanded 48-team tournament in 2026.

Herdman made four changes to his starting eleven, revamping his midfield with Adekugbe, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Jonathan Osorio and Junior Hoilett replacing Hutchinson, Stephen Eustaquio, Richie Laryea and Jonathan David.

Eustaquio (hamstring) was injured before the game. Borjan captained Canada during Hutchinson’s absence.

Born in Montreal but raised in Morocco, Bounou turned down an offer to wear Canadian colors from former Canadian coach Benito Floro before playing for Morocco. The Sevilla keeper won the Zamora Trophy last season for the lowest number of goals conceded in Spain’s La Liga.

Fans from both countries turned up the volume in the Al Thumama stadium from the start, creating a pulsating atmosphere. Attendance was announced at 43102.

After a lead, the Moroccans kept the pressure high. Canada finally got a chance in the 15th minute when a sliding Tajon Buchanan just missed getting his boot to a low cross from Cyle Larin that was raked over the box.

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An En-Nesyri first half stoppage time goal after a Moroccan free kick was flagged for offside.

Herdman put in Hutchinson, David and Ismael Kone in the 60th minute to kick off the comeback. Laryea followed five minutes later with David Wotherspoon entering the game in the 76th.

Morocco entered the game with a 3-9-6 record at the World Cup, having beaten Portugal 3-1 in 1986 and Scotland 3-0 in 1998, as well as Belgium here.

Canada was looking for its first win over the Atlas Lions, after losing twice and drawing once in previous encounters. Morocco won 4-0 the last time they met, in October 2016 in Marrakech.

Morocco, who had not conceded a goal in their six previous matches, aimed to win back-to-back matches at the World Cup for the first time.

Morocco entered the match having won 11 of its previous 13 matches against CONCACAF nations. Canada, meanwhile, had won only one of its last six games against African teams (1-3-2).

Thumama Stadium, 12 kilometers south of Doha, will open in October 2021. It is designed to emulate the ‘gahfiya’, a traditional woven cap worn by men and boys in the Middle East and Arab world.

Upon arrival at the stadium, the Canadian walked outside to inspect the field for the sound of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”.

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Brazilian Raphael Claus was in charge of the game.

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