U17 World Cup: Morocco beat Iran on penalties to progress to quarter-finals 

Morocco ensured they booked a place in the last eight of the ongoing Under-17 FIFA World Cup with a 4-1 win over Iran in a penalty shootout after both sides played out a 1-1 stalemate after regulation time.

Following a tough first 45 minutes that ended without a goal from either side, Morocco began the second half on high, with Mohamed Hamony forcing a huge save from Iran goalkeeper Arsha Shakouri as his curling effort from just inside the box was almost creeping into the net.

However, Iran finally broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 73rd minute with a goal from Esmaeil Gholizadeh Samian. The 17-year-old’s brilliant header, which went in off the post from Nima Andarz’s cross, beat Moroccan goalie Taha Benrhozil.

The North Africans almost levelled the scores, but Amirmohammad Razaghinia’s powerful free-kick hit the crossbar.

With the game winding down, Morocco needed a hero and upstepped 17-year-old Anderlecht youth forward Nassim Azaouzi with a goal in the fourth minute of second-half added time. Azaouzi, who came on as a substitute in the 89th minute, lashed home a volley to send the game to shootouts.

The game headed into shootouts, and Benrhozil, who eventually won the Man-of-the-Match award, was Morocco’s saviour, saving a twice-taken penalty from Iran’s Kasra Taheri after Hesam Nafari had missed his own kick from the spot.

With the shootouts at 3-1, Morocco’s Fouad Zahouani was presented with the chance to win the game for the Atlas Cubs, and he successfully did, sending his penalty home to create raucous celebrations inside the Gelora Bung Tomo (GBT) Stadium in East Java, Indonesia.

Morocco’s win on Tuesday afternoon set up an all-African quarterfinal encounter with Mali in Surakarta on Friday, November 24.

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