Winless Morocco, already eliminated from the World Cup entering Monday’s match, played for pride and nearly won. But a stoppage-time goal by Spain’s Iago Aspas, awarded following video review, preserved a 2-2 draw and pushed Spain through to the 2018 World Cup Round of 16.
Youssef En Nesyri scored a go-ahead goal for Morocco in the 82nd minute of the teams’ final Group B match, giving the small country a 2-1 lead. Spain’s game-winner was not initially awarded as the referee called Aspas offside. After consulting the video assistant referee, referee Rmatov Ravshan changed course and added the goal to the scoreboard.
The decision put Spain at the top of Group B, surpassing No. 2 Portugal via tiebreaker with six goals scored in the group stage compared to Portugal’s five.
Khalid Boutaib scored Morocco’s other goal for a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. Spain responded with an equalizer five minutes later from Isco.
Spain entered the match tied in points with Portugal, each with four points. Iran was close behind with three points. Morocco had none. Portugal tied Iran 1-1 Monday to claim second place in the group.
Spain will play Russia in the Knockout Round July 1, while Portugal takes on Uruguay.
Watch En Nesyri’s late goal for Morocco: