One of the favourites Belgium took on North African side Morocco in Group F at the Al Thumama Stadium.
Brothers Eden and Thorgan Hazard both started for the Europeans who slenderly beat Canada 1-0 in their opening game.
Unsurprisingly, the Belgians began with plenty of the ball, reducing the Moroccan fans to constant whistles whilst they moved the ball around without breaking through the lines.
But chances were few and far between in a lethargic opening half from both sides as Belgium, who had a lot of possession, lacked energy and authority on the ball.
However, just before the break, Morocco thought they had the lead through Ziyech whose free kick from the right hand side found its way in the back of the net after it went past everyone, including Courtois who got a hand to it. But VAR deemed Saiss to be offside and, as he made an effort to get on the end of the free kick, he was obstructing Courtois.
The sides went into the break at 0-0 with Martinez surely frustrated with his team’s performance.
The second half began with more of the same as neither team looked like scoring as Morocco defended well every time Belgium went forward.
Then, with less than 20 minutes to play, it was Morocco who took a shock lead after a free kick from the left hand side went all the way in – similar to the goal they had disallowed at the end of the first half. The right footed Sabiri whipped a ball towards Courtois’ goal from a very tight angle and Saiss, onside this time, deceived him by leaving it as it found the net.
Belgium responded immediately by bringing on Brighton’s Trossard and AC Milan’s De Ketelaere as they now needed a goal just to draw the game.
As the Belgians pushed for a leveller, the game became more open and there was room for Morocco to attack on the counter. Despite their quality, the likes of Hazard and De Bruyne were largely ineffective as Morocco successfully plugged their impact on the game.
Romelu Lukaku, after missing the last game, and not at 100%, came on with ten minutes to go, as Belgium’s last hope to save the game. Lukaku has more than twice as many goals for his country as anyone else and Belgium needed him to deliver again.
But, in the third minute of stoppage time, Morocco put the game to bed as a goal kick was flicked on twice before Ziyech cut it back for Aboukhlal, who finished into the roof of the net.
Another upset in Qatar as the second-ranked team in the World were beaten and are now behind Morocco on three points after two games.
It was a much deserved win for the African nation as they halted Belgium’s attacking prowess in manager Walid Regragui’s only 6th game in charge after taking over in September – they have kept clean sheets in all six.
The Moroccan fans played their part throughout with incredible support behind their team.
It is also only Morocco’s third win in 18 World Cup matches as they go top of the group and now face Canada, looking to advance to the last 16.