Morocco 1-0 Colombia: Morocco’s maiden World Cup dreams continue

Morocco knew ahead of kick-off that they simply had to better Germany’s result to progress to the round-of-sixteen on their Women’s World Cup debut. With Colombia’s progression all but mathematically confirmed, the pressure was firmly on the debutants.

MAR: Er-Rmichi; Aït El Haj, Chad, Benzina, Redouani, Ouzraoui, Nakkach, Chebbak, Tagnaout, Lahmari, Jraïdi.

COL: Perez; Arias, Carabali, Arias, Vanegas, Bedoya, Montoya, Usme, Santos, Caicedo, Ramirez.

Morocco began the game with a certain edge that the Colombians perhaps weren’t expecting, as Ibtissam Jraïdi’s effort in the early knockings forced Catalina Perez to make a smart stop at a tight angle. Then, Ghizlane Chebbak nearly caught the keeper out from a corner routine. 

Colombia showed why they were top of the group with glimpses of quality – with eleven minutes on the clock, Catalina Usme released Mayra Ramirez. Although her shot fired well wide, it illustrated just how quickly a dynamic Colombian side could create an opportunity.

That said, that would’ve been an afterthought for Morocco as they looked much more convincing in attack than their South American counterparts. Just before the fifteen-minute mark, Jraidi was a threat – forcing another save from Perez. With half an hour played, Chebbak and Anissa Lahmari combined well before the latter fired over. 

When Colombia managed to escape pressure, the young Linda Caicedo found space well – yet her fine looping cross from the right flank wasn’t rewarded by Ramirez’s high header. 

Nearing the break, Morocco finally made their offensive pestering count for something, as a lackadaisical defence gave away a penalty. The ever-present Jraidi was bundled over by Daniela Arias, and while Perez spared the defender’s blushes with a save from the spot Morocco scurried after the rebound. Sakina Ouzraoui kept it alive and passed the ball across for Lahmari to bundle in.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

In the second half, Colombia searched for a way to return parity. With 59 minutes played, Daniela Montoya first forced a save from Khadija Er-Rmichi before Leicy Santos drove her strike agonisingly wide. In the final half hour, Er-Rmichi proved to be the hero. Merely three minutes later, she turned a Ramirez strike behind – and with under twenty minutes remaining, she produced likely one of the most important saves of her career, making an incredible fingertip save from Caicedo at close range. 

As Morocco sealed victory in tense final moments, after the final whistle – news came in that Germany drew. Cue mad and emotional celebrations from those in red as now emphatic attention turns to a big clash with France, while table-topping Colombia look ahead to face Jamaica.