An impassioned Moroccan team clinched a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time since 1986 by defeating the already-eliminated Canadians 2-1 on Thursday, mercilessly capitalising on their opponents blunders.
Morocco, who needed a win or a draw in their final Group F match to reach the knockout rounds, took advantage of a weak clearance by goalkeeper Milan Borjan that landed on the foot of Hakim Ziyech.
Cheered on by a boisterous crowd of Moroccan fans, midfielder Ziyech effortlessly lobbed the ball over the stranded goalkeeper to open scoring in the fourth minute.
Borjan had been placed in an unenviable position by central defender Steven Vitoria, whose weak back pass forced the goalkeeper to race Moroccan forward Youssef En-Nesyri to the ball.
En-Nesyri remained dangerous throughout the first half, doubling Morocco’s lead in the 23rd minute when he ran onto a long ball from Achraf Hakimi and beat Borjan at the near post.
En-Nesyri also thumped a volley into the Canadian net during stoppage time in the first half but that goal was ruled offside.
With Croatia drawing with Belgium in the other Group F game, Morocco finish first in the group and will face the second-place finishers in Group E, which is made up of Japan, Spain, Germany and Costa Rica.
Moroccan defender Nayef Aguerd put Canada on the scoreboard with an own goal, the first of this World Cup, by accidentally flicking a cross by Sam Adekugbe past his own goalkeeper Yassine Bounou in the 40th minute.
Canada, who are exiting their first World Cup since 1986 without a win, automatically qualifies for the 2026 tournament as co-hosts along with the United States and Mexico.
Two first-half goals set Morocco on their way to top place in World Cup Group F but they had to hold on for a 2-1 win over Canada at the Al Thumama Stadium on Thursday after conceding an own goal that kept them nervous through the second half.
Morocco finished on seven points, two more than runners-up Croatia, to advance from the group stages for a second time, 36 years after they became the first African country to do so at the Mexico World Cup in 1986.
A goalkeeping howler allowed Hakim Ziyech to score after four minutes, followed by a second in the 23rd minute from Youssef En-Nesyri, running onto a superb long pass from Achraf Hakimi.
But Nayef Aguerd stuck out a toe to deflect a cross from Sam Adekugbe into his own net five minutes before the break to offer already-eliminated Canada a chance to get back in the game and win a first World Cup point. Canada came close to a second-half equaliser but proved unable to make the breakthrough.
Morocco next play on Tuesday against the runners-up in Group E, which will be decided later on Thursday.
Morocco has restored goalkeeper Yassine Bounou to their team for their last Group F game against Canada at the Al Thumama Stadium on Thursday after his mysterious absence from their last outing against Belgium.
He had lined up for the match but appeared to be ill during the singing of the anthems and was pulled from the starting XI before the kick off, replaced by Munir El Kajoui.
The team doctor said afterward he had been ill but Morocco coach Walid Regragui claimed Bounou had suffered an injury in the warm-up.
Morocco made other changes as Abdelhamid Sabiri, whose free kick set up their shock 2-0 win over Belgium, replaces Selim Amallah in an attacking switch made by the coach.
Already-eliminated Canada, who will co-host the next World Cup, has made four changes to their team after losing 4-1 to Croatia in their previous fixture.
Sam Adekugbe, Junior Hoilett, and Jonathan Osorio all start, along with midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye, who gets his first run out at the tournament in Qatar.
Milan Borjan; Alistair Johnston, Kamal Miller, Steven Vitoria; Sam Adekugbe, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Jonathan Osorio, Junior Hoilett; Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Tajon Buchanan
Coach: John Herdman (ENG)
Yassine Bounou; Achraf Hakimi, Nayef Aguerd, Romain Saiss (capt), Noussair Mazraoui; Sofyan Amrabat, Azzedine Ounahi, Abdelhamid Sabiri; Youssef En-Nesyri, Sofiane Boufal, Hakim Ziyech,
Coach: Walid Regragui (MAR)
Referee: Raphael Claus (BRA)
(With input from agencies)