Morocco became the first African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final and ended the hopes of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
Striker Youssef En-Nesyri scored the winning goal in the first half, leaping high to beat goalkeeper Diogo Costa to the ball and head out to spark pandemonium at Al Thumama Stadium.
Fans of the North African team filled most of the hall and happily celebrated their breakthrough on the world stage.
Ronaldo came off the bench in the 50th minute to equal the men’s all-time appearance record of 196 international appearances, but he was unable to bring his side back into the competition.
Morocco, which will face England or France in the last four, was content to play against and opened the scoring just before the break when En-Nesyri took the lead on a cross from Yahya Attiyat-Allah.
Portugal skipper Bruno Fernandes narrowly missed an equalizer minutes later but a brilliant individual effort hit the crossbar.
Decimated by injuries, Morocco rested for most of the second half and Yassine Bounou brilliantly overturned Joao Felix’s drive – the closest to an equaliser.
Moroccan striker Walid Cheddira was sent off for a second yellow card in eight minutes of added time, but Portugal couldn’t find the equalizer as their last four hopes were dashed.
Magnificent Moroccans make history
Three African teams had already reached this stage of the World Cup, but none had progressed further. So far.
The wonderful Moroccan players and fans rejoiced when En-Nesyri’s header in the 42nd minute proved to be the pivotal moment.
Fans whistled and mocked every pass from the Portuguese players, and then the rowdiest section behind the goal seemed to suck the ball into the net.
Walid Regragui’s side missed West Ham’s Nayef Aguerd, Bayern Munich’s Noussair Mazraoui and lost captain Romain Saiss to injury early in the second half.
But they staunchly defended and frustrated Portugal to retain their seventh clean sheet in eight games under their boss and have conceded just once in this tournament.
Morocco are a tough proposition and backed by a partisan crowd in Doha, they will present a tough challenge to anyone they face in the final four on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper Bounou, who won his 50th cap, fended off a header from Félix early on and a deflected shot went narrowly past.
Morocco had carved out the best chances at the break, but En-Nesyri fired two free-kicks with a header and Sofiane Boufal’s curler was straight on Costa.
In his desperation to equalize, Fernando Santos sent on Ronaldo early in the second half, but the 37-year-old – who equaled Kuwaiti striker Bader Al-Mutawa’s international cap record – struggled to get an impact.
After watching rival Lionel Messi reach the semi-finals on Friday, Ronaldo was unable to do the same for his side in what is likely to be his last World Cup appearance, trudging through the tunnel in tears full-time when his dream was over.