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Hakim Ziyech and Morocco make World Cup history as win over Canada propels them to first knockout stage since 1986

Morocco booked their place in the round of 16 by taking advantage of Canada’s blunders in a 2-1 win on Thursday.

It’s Morocco’s first last-16 appearance at a World Cup since 1986.

It took less than four minutes for Hakim Ziyech to open the scoring as he took advantage of a blunder from Canada’s back-line. Youssef En-Nesyri added another goal in the 23rd minute on a fantastic ball from Achraf Hakimi over Canada’s back-line, but John Herdman’s side pulled one back before half-time thanks to a Nayef Aguerd own goal. Despite Canada’s enthusiasm in the second half, the equalising goal never came, although they did come close as a shot bounced near the line before being cleared away.

A few months ago, Ziyech wasn’t even part of this Morocco team, having controversially retired from the international game amid a feud with former coach Vahid Halilhodzic. On Thursday, though, he scored the goal that effectively sent his team to the round of 16, even if it came with a little help from Canada’s back-line.

Milan Borjan’s catastrophic error helped set the tone within the first four minutes. He wasn’t helped out by Alistair Johnston’s poor back-pass, but Canada’s goalkeeper got a little too cute with his touch, handing Ziyech the first goal.

 With the win, Morocco finishes atop the group and will now face the second-place team in Group E, which features Spain, Japan, Costa Rica and Germany. Canada, meanwhile, will now look ahead to the 2026 World Cup, which they will co-host with the United States and Mexico.

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