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Belgium suffered a major upset against Morocco at the Qatar World Cup on Sunday, losing 2-0 in Group F to damage their hopes of qualifying for the knockout rounds.
While Morocco drew 0-0 with Croatia in their tournament opener, Belgium edged past Canada 1-0 despite largely being outplayed in that game.
And they were poor again here, beaten by a second-half free kick from Abdelhamid Sabiri – whose delivery from Morocco’s left flank went all the way through and past Thibaut Courtois – and a late goal by Zakaria Aboukhlal.
Morocco believed they had scored with a free kick on half time, when a Hakim Ziyech delivery beat Courtois, but the Belgium goalkeeper had been unsighted by the offside Romain Saiss and his blushes were spared. The same could not be said when Sabiri whipped the ball past Courtois and into the net with 15 minutes of normal time left, however, in remarkably similar fashion to the disallowed goal.
Here’s how Belgium’s players fared against Morocco:
Thibaut Courtois - 3
Should have done better with Hakim Ziyech’s free kick from out wide on half time, even if he was unsighted by the offside Romain Saiss – which saw the goal ruled out. Morocco repeated the trick from the other flank in the second half, and again the ball went through Courtois again.
Thomas Meunier - 4
Was let off when Morocco wasted a first-half chance after the defender misjudged a long ball over the top. Also supplied a couple of poor deliveries in key moments and made unnecessary fouls. Was replaced immediately after Morocco’s goal.
Jan Vertonghen - 5
The centre back made some decent reads and clearances but needed to build Belgium’s moves with more urgency.
Toby Alderweireld - 5
Like Vertonghen, he did not move the ball forward with enough pace. Also gave away the ball in the middle of the pitch with an awful touch at one point.
Toby Alderweireld in action in the centre of Belgium’s defence
Timothy Castagne - 5
Was taked with dealing with Ziyech and had mixed results.
Axel Witsel - 5
Helped his team to maintain possession, but did nothing else of note.
Andre Onana - 5
Beat Morocco goalkeeper Munir Mohamedi to two corners, but sent both headers well off target. Picked up a booking that rules the 21-year-old out of Belgium’s game with Croatia. Wa replaced on 60 minutes.
Thorgan Hazard - 7
Arguably his team’s best player, though that doesn’t say too much. Looked intent to make a mark, and his deliveries were largely good. Was replaced right after Morocco’s goal.
Eden Hazard - 4
Eden Hazard was replaced on the hour mark of Belgium’s group tie with Morocco
A sad display, in all sincerity. The captain tried to pull off the kinds of runs that have made him so captivating over the past decade, but he only completed one without being dispossessed. Was devoid of that old burst of pace and deftness of touch. Taken off on the hour mark.
Kevin De Bruyne - 6
Touch and passing accuracy were much improved from Belgium’s opener, and he bent a free kick onto the roof of the net with a nearly brilliant effort. The Manchester City midfielder did not, however, make the difference that Belgian fans were hoping for.
Michy Batshuayi - 4
Saw a decent early chance saved by Munir, but otherwise received and made no goalscoring opportunities. Was caught offside more than once when he really shouldn’t have been at all. Was replaced on 74 minutes.
Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku was brought on late despite lacking full fitness
(AFP via Getty Images)
Youri Tielemans - 5
Largely anonymous after replacing Onana.
Dries Mertens - 6
Looked to grab hold of the game with urgency and directness. Forced a save out of Munir after a few minutes on pitch.
Leandro Trossard - 5
Plenty of drive, no end product.
Charles De Ketelaere - 5
The 21-year-old did not have any more joy than Batshuayi.
Romelu Lukaku - 5
Not at full fitness and couldn’t really be expected to save his team here.