Kaliningrad, Russia– The North African side Morocco, already out for the tournament, twice took the lead against 2010 world champions, first through Khalid Boutaib before substitute Youssef En-Nesyri headed home after Isco had equalised for Spain.
Boutaib stunned the Spanish Armada when he nab stole the ball from the feet of Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta to run through and slide the ball under Manchester United’s goalkeeper David de Gea to score Morocco’s first goal.
This goal was a wake-up call for Fernando Hierro’s side. Just after five minutes Real Madrid’s Isco took a fine touch and scored a goal.
In the 81st minute En-Nesyri rose highest to power a header past helpless De Gea into the back of the net and put his team on the brink of a historic win.
But everything turned due to the World Cup’s contentious new innovation: the video assistant referee, or the V.A.R.
First, a goal by Spain’s Iago Aspas from Dani Carvajal cross in 91st minutes was initially disallowed due to an offside call. But after a protracted V.A.R. review, it was declared a goal after all, spurring frenzied celebration on the Spanish bench.
Spain is the first team to win its group with five or fewer points since the USA and Paraguay back in 2010 when La Rojas finished as eventual champions.