Morocco fans take to the streets of London after 1-0 World Cup win over Portugal 


Moroccan football fans have taken to the streets of London and cities across Europe  as they go wild celebrating their team’s shock 1-0 defeat of Portugal, making them the first African nation to go through to the World Cup semi-finals.

It is a record-breaking achievement for the nation, who became the first African country to reach the semi-final stages of a World Cup competition on Saturday. 

Fans erupted into celebrations across the world, including in London, where Moroccan supporters have been pictured screaming and cheering in excitement – while the rest of the city anxiously waits to see if England can replicate the feat.

Meanwhile in Brussels, Belgium, lines of riot police responded to the raucous celebrations which followed the nation’s incredible journey in this year’s tournament. 

Morocco fans have taken over parts of central London as they sing and dance together

Morocco fans have taken over parts of central London as they sing and dance together

Morocco fans with flags in Piccadilly Circus celebrate after reaching the semi final

Morocco fans with flags in Piccadilly Circus celebrate after reaching the semi final

Morocco: The ‘Rocky of the World Cup’ 

Moroccan coach Walid Regragui hailed Morocco as the ‘Rocky of this World Cup’ after they made history by becoming the first African team to reach the semi-finals.

The Atlas Lions followed up their victories over Belgium and Spain by defeating Portugal 1-0 in the quarter-finals thanks to a goal from Youssef En-Nesyri.

Roared on by their passionate supporters in Al Thumama Stadium, Morocco defied their status as the underdogs of the last eight with another energetic, committed performance.

Regragui, who only took over at the end of August, compared his team to fictional boxing hero Rocky Balboa, saying: ‘I think we are becoming the team that everyone loves in this World Cup because we are showing the world that you can achieve even if you don’t have as much talent, as much quality, as much money.

‘If you work hard enough and you show that desire, that passion and belief then you can succeed. It’s no miracle. We’ve beaten Belgium, Spain, Portugal without letting in a goal. That’s not a miracle. That’s the result of hard work.

‘I’m not getting carried away because I know we could have conceded tonight but we made our people happy and proud and we’ve made the continent happy and proud and so many people around the world.

‘When you watch Rocky you want to support Rocky Balboa because of his heart and commitment and I think we’re the Rocky of this World Cup.’

 

Police have been spotted arriving in force in central London as ‘thousands’ of Morocco fans take to the streets. 

Large groups of fans gathered in the Edgware Road area of London, jumping for joy, cheering and shouting ‘Ole!’. Cars passing could be heard enthusiastically beeping their horns in congratulations to the Moroccan fans. 

Supporters with large Moroccan flags were ecstatic at the victory, which was largely a shock win over a nation used to being propelled into the final stages with the help of football legends such as Christiano Ronaldo.

Just minutes after full-time, videos posted to social media showed large crowds with Moroccan flags chanting as they marched along Edgware Road on Saturday evening, with some fans leaning out of cars beeping their horns. 

Later in the evening, there appeared to be brief scuffles with police officers in London as they tried to control the crowds. 

Ahmad Zaki Mohammed, a 25-year-old software engineer, was among those celebrating and described the scenes as ‘euphoric’. 

‘It’s a great day to be Moroccan,’ he said. 

‘This victory and the ones before mean a lot to me and my people. We’ve made history not just for Morocco but also Africa.

‘The celebrations in Edgware Road highlight how much this victory means to Morocco, it feels ecstatic and you can sense the happiness in the air… (it) has made this victory euphoric!’ 

Mr Mohammed said the nation’s success at the World Cup will inspire its youth, adding: ‘If we’ve come this far then it’s possible to win! 

‘We’ve had it really hard this World Cup by going up against Belgium, Spain and Portugal, but thanks to Allah we’ve won every game.’ 

Harry Williamson, 26, lives in Paddington and walked past the celebrations in the UK capital and estimated there were thousands of people celebrating in Edgware Road alone. 

‘(It was) absolute madness but in a good way,’ the architectural assistant said. 

‘It looked like people were heading down towards Marble Arch and presumably Piccadilly Circus on foot. 

‘Cars beeping everywhere, everyone having a good time with big smiles. ‘It was all just impeccable vibes really – lovely to see.’ 

Hundreds of Morocco supporters have gathered at Piccadilly Circus in central London

Hundreds of Morocco supporters have gathered at Piccadilly Circus in central London

Morocco fans celebrate in London after Saturday's Morocco v Portugal match

Morocco fans celebrate in London after Saturday’s Morocco v Portugal match

Cars filled with excited fans drove through central London on Saturday evening after the victory

Cars bedecked with the Moroccan flag proceed at walking pace, surrounded by fans based in London

A police van arrives to monitor celebrations in Edgware road after Morocco's historic quarter-final win

A police van arrives to monitor celebrations in Edgware road after Morocco’s historic quarter-final win

A line of police officers ensure fans and traffic are kept separated in London

A line of police officers ensure fans and traffic are kept separated in London

The celebrations followed one of Morocco’s best performances in Qatar so far

Fans celebrate in Edgware Road

Fans celebrate in Edgware Road

Large groups of fans gathered in the Edgware Road area of London, jumping for joy, cheering and shouting ‘Ole!’

People have taken to social media to share the ongoing celebrations, which has seen many dress in the country's national colour (red)

People have taken to social media to share the ongoing celebrations, which has seen many dress in the country’s national colour (red)

Hundreds also gathered at one of London’s most iconic landmarks, Piccadilly Circus, with fans clearly jubilant at their team’s success.

Fireworks were pictured going off near to the fans, although whether they were due to Morocco’s win is unclear. 

Fans in the Belgian capital set off flares, waved flags and took over whole streets in the capital in their excitement. 

In Qatar, Youssef En-Nesyri put Morocco ahead in the first-half. Portugal’s keeper Diogo Costa rushed out of his goal and got nowhere near the ball – with the forward’s goal proving to be the only strike of the game.

As expected, there was a camera on Ronaldo to get the benched star’s reaction, and the 37-year-old gave a big sigh before staring down the camera.

Morocco had already beaten football greats such as Belgium and Spain in this tournament but the win over Portugal is of much greater significance.

It was also one of Morocco’s better performances in Qatar, full of determined defending and canny counters, keeping at bay a collection of world stars despite losing key defender Nayef Aguerd to injury before the match and his back four partner and captain Romain Saiss early in the second half.

Fans also went wild in south Manchester. Crowds descended on the streets of Rusholme on Saturday after Morocco stunned Portugal to book their spot in the semi-finals of the World Cup with a brave win.

Video shows fans inside a packed-out bar on Wilmslow Road erupt into cheer when the final whistle was blown at the Al Thumama Stadium in Qatar. Fireworks could also be heard exploding nearby.

Bus service Go North West confirmed road closures are currently in place as a result of the match. In a tweet, the company said: ‘Diversions are in place on the 41 CrossCity & 53 Orbits to avoid Rusholme because of the result of the Morocco vs Portugal Game. Standard Weekend diversion has been implemented early.’

Passing cars beeped their support for the fans in some parts of London as they passed fans with Moroccan flags

Passing cars beeped their support for the fans in some parts of London as they passed fans with Moroccan flags

Moroccan supporters let off red flares as they gathered in large crowds in Brussels, Belgium

Moroccan supporters let off red flares as they gathered in large crowds in Brussels, Belgium

Police monitor the joyous celebrations in Belgium's capital after Saturday afternoon's match

Police monitor the joyous celebrations in Belgium’s capital after Saturday afternoon’s match

Morocco became the first African nation to make it through to the final four of a World Cup tournament

Morocco became the first African nation to make it through to the final four of a World Cup tournament

Huge crowds of Moroccan fans gathered in Edgware Road, London

Huge crowds of Moroccan fans gathered in Edgware Road, London

One man wearing the red and green of Morocco’s national flag and its football kit raised his hands in supplication as the final minutes ticked away, shouting ‘O God, o God’.

In the media box, a security guard, screaming with triumph, hugged a Moroccan journalist who was weeping with happiness.

As Moroccan player Jawad El Yamiq circled the pitch with a flag draped around his shoulders, one fan stood motionless, looking out over the pitch with his hands over his mouth as if unable to take in the scale of the win.

Portugal will see it as a missed opportunity against the lowest-ranked side left in the tournament and a disappointing curtain call for the 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, who walked down the tunnel at the end of the game in tears.

Morocco, encouraged by the majority of the 44,198-strong crowd, said they were fatigued after their last-16 success over Spain and immediately went into defensive mode as Portugal attacked from the outset.

But Morocco rallied to take the lead and then hung on throughout the match, with Portugal struggling to gain any foothold. 

‘They made us happy and proud and they proved that they can make it to the final. Why not? We are so proud of this team that is supported by Africa and Arabs’ said Siham Motahir, a young woman in the Moroccan capital Rabat where cafes had filled with fans to watch the game.

Riot police responded to the size of jubilant crowds in the Belgian capital, with some minor clashes seen

Riot police responded to the size of jubilant crowds in the Belgian capital, with some minor clashes seen

Joyful fans thronged the streets after watching the Morocco-Portugal game in pubs and restaurants

Joyful fans thronged the streets after watching the Morocco-Portugal game in pubs and restaurants

Fans react in Tunis as they watched Morocco defeat Portugal and become the first African nation to make the semi-finals

Fans react in Tunis as they watched Morocco defeat Portugal and become the first African nation to make the semi-finals

The 1-0 win over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal is Morocco’s third over a highly ranked European team in the tournament, a run that had brought delight across the country and widespread support across the African continent and Arab world.

African Union President Macky Sall wrote on Twitter: ‘HISTORIC! AND FANTASTIC! THE ATLAS LIONS ARE QUALIFIED FOR THE SEMI-FINALS OF THE WORLD CUP! BRAVO MOROCCO.’

In an Abidjan cafe where people were watching the game and drinking beer to celebrate the win, customer Jules Goule said Ivorians were proud of Morocco’s win. ‘Through Morocco Africa has just shown that it can compete with other continents in football,’ he said.

‘Waoh, waoh… Morocco! It’s with great joy! Africa is shining! Go Africa!’ shouted Agwe Jefferson, 28, a driver in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde.

As the game wound on, Morocco fans screamed ‘Ole, ole, ole!’ in unison, drowning out the handful of Portuguese fans and whistling whenever Portugal took possession of the ball.

Behind the two goals, banks of Moroccan supporters stood for the whole match with drummers and fan leaders coordinating the chants.

One man wearing the red and green of Morocco’s national flag and its football kit raised his hands in supplication as the final minutes ticked away, shouting ‘O God, o God’.

In the media box, a security guard, screaming with triumph, hugged a Moroccan journalist who was weeping with happiness.

Moroccan coach Walid Regragui hailed Morocco as the ‘Rocky of this World Cup’. 

And as Moroccan player Jawad El Yamiq circled the pitch with a flag draped around his shoulders, one fan stood motionless, looking out over the pitch with his hands over his mouth as if unable to take in the scale of the win.

But in Rabat, joyful fans thronged the streets, people poured towards the downtown square where Morocco’s victories are celebrated.

‘The last few minutes felt like hours,’ said one fan, Samir Saqri, as he joined a crowd pouring out from the cafe where they had watched the game to head downtown.

‘Morocco is showing that African teams can compete at a high level,’ he added.



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