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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Nizaar Kinsella

Spain player ratings vs Morocco: Jordi Alba and Marcos Llorente bamboozled in major World Cup upset

Stunned: Spain fell in the World Cup last-16 to Morocco after a woeful penalty shootout display

(Picture: AP)

Almost a mirror image of Spain’s World Cup fall in Russia four years ago saw them ousted by a spirited Morocco side in another penalty shootout.

The Atlas Lions toiled for 120 minutes to shut out a possession-hungry La Roja side and they eventually overcame them in pressured circumstances for the country to reach their first ever quarter-final.

Achraf Hakimi scored the decisive penalty after goalkeeper Bono saved two and Pablo Sarabia smashed his effort against the post.

Nizaar Kinsella was at Education City Stadium to rate the Spain players.

Unai Simón - 6

Ahead of five Premier League goalkeepers in the Spain pecking order, the Athletic Club shot-stopper did his job comfortably, saving Noussair Mazraoui’s only shot on target in the first half. Dealt with a difficult pressing situation well early on in the second half but almost gave away a goal in the dying seconds of the game.

Jordi Alba - 5

Had the unenviable job of marking Hakim Ziyech and Hakimi and struggled with the former’s trickery and the latter’s power. Morocco’s best chance of the first half came from a Nayef Aguerd header. Alba went off in extra time having been poor in both defence and attack.

Aymeric Laporte - 7

Allowed to knock the ball around the back at will with his team-mate for club and country as Morocco waited to press in midfield. Laporte and Rodri touched the ball more times than anyone else but Laporte was also booked for a high challenge on Hakimi.

Rodri - 7

A very similar performance to his defensive partner, controlling the game from his deep position.

Marcos Llorente - 4

Sofiane Boufal caused the Leeds defender all kinds of problems with his trickery down the wing. Llorente came in for Cesar Azpilicueta and struggled.

Pedri - 7

The tempo-setting midfielder mastered his craft to ensure Spain maintained possession. He was allowed to drift into wide spaces allowing Spain’s no10s to drop into midfield.

Sergio Busquets - 8

Making his 17th appearance at the World Cup, arguably the best defensive midfielder around kept possession and ensured opposition attacks didn’t come down the middle of the pitch.

Gavi - 7

Combined his amazing play in possession with a desire to compete against an intense Morocco side. Incredibly impressive for one so young. He was surprisingly substituted early for Carlos Soler but may have run himself into the ground through his competitive spirit.

Dani Olmo - 6

Almost entirely anonymous down Spain’s left-hand side in the first half. He had a free-kick comfortably saved by Bono early in the second half but produced the most dangerous delivery into the box in the final seconds of normal time to force a save, justifying Luis Enrique’s decision to keep faith with him. Ultimately came off in extra time for Ansu Fati.

Marco Asensio - 4

The Real Madrid forward operated as a false nine and missed Spain’s only chance of the first half by hitting into the side netting. He came off for Alvaro Morata.

Ferran Torres - 4

His nutmeg on Mazraoui helped win a free-kick to deliver from a good area. Unfortunately he was outshone by the Moroccan winger on his side, Boufal, who recently failed to make the grade at Southampton.


Carlos Soler - 6

His clipped ball caused havoc late on, allowing Mortata to run in behind. Didn’t especially shine in his 60 minutes on the pitch.

Alvaro Morata - 4

The former Chelsea and now Atletico Madrid striker came on to add bite to a toothless attack. He provided a focal point after the use of a false nine but rushed his first shot and was caught offside shortly after coming on.

The heading specialist had a free header in the 90th minute from Olmo’s cross. He was in tears after seeing his side lose on penalties.

Nico Williams - 9

A little bit of something different, Williams used his dribbling ability to beat a man and put a cross in immediately after coming on. It almost created a chance for Olmo but it was well-defended.

Williams then played in Morata with a reverse pass but he rushed his shot. The Athletic Club man had his own shot blocked and produced another few good creative moments in extra time but was taken off for Pablo Sarabia to take a penalty.

Alejandro Balde - 6

His pace was an asset to cut out Morocco’s counter-attacks. Balde also took down a lofted cross and shot into a blocking Ziyech soon after coming on.

Ansu Fati - 6

Didn’t have enough time to impact the game.

Pablo Sarabia - 3

He was brought on to score a penalty and missed. Simple.

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