Doha : Following his side's loss to Morocco in their FIFA World Cup Group F match, Belgium manager Roberto Martinez said that the first goal by the opponents affected the outcome heavily and his side failed to convert their chances into goals.
Late goals by Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal powered Morocco to a 2-0 win over Belgium in a Group F match being played here at Al Thumama Stadium. This turned out to be yet another upset of FIFA World Cup 2022.
"It is a difficult result. The first goal affected the outcome a lot. It is a dead ball, we could not get our game going and it's a game we need to understand. We need to react into the next game, that is what happens in the World Cup. The situation at the free-kick was the way we have been defending for six years. It is a good ball, but it has nothing to do with our setup," Sky Sports quoted Martinez as saying to BBC.
"We had good moments but could not get clear chances, we had a couple of half opportunities, and if you allow the goal to be conceded it changes the game radically. That is when we lost our composure, and could not get ourselves in the final third more with more thought. The game got away from us after conceding the goal," he added.
Morocco now has four points in two matches they have played so far with the previous match against Croatia being a draw. On the other hand, the European side has three points in two games with one win and one defeat.
Belgium started on an attacking note as Thorgan Hazard's assist helped Michy Batshuayi take a left-footed shot from the left side of the box but the ball went off target.
In the 16th minute, Eden Hazard's assist helped Kevin De Bruyne take a right-footed shot from outside the box but it was blocked.
In the next minute, Amadou Onana's header from very close range went too high as Thorgan Hazard's cross following a corner went in vain.
Yet another assist from Thorgan Hazard went in vain as Thomas Meunier right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
In the 21st minute came Morocco's opportunity as Achraf Hakimi's assist gave a chance to Hakim Ziyech. But his left-footed shot from outside the box went too high.
Eight minutes later Amadou Onana of Belgium got a yellow card for a bad foul. The match finally went to stoppage time where Morocco got a free kick and Hakim Ziyech shot on the right wing and went onto hot the nets but the VAR denied the goal.
Both the teams went into half-time without scoring a goal. In the second half too things remained the same. The deadlock broke in the 73rd minute when Morocco's Abdelhamid Sabiri came up with a brilliant free-kick which went on to find the centre of the goal.
The final nail in the coffin for Belgium came when Hakim Ziyech's assist helped Zakaria Aboukhlal take a right-footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner to give a commanding 2-0 lead to Morocco.
Surprisingly, the European side had the bulk of the possession having 67 per cent of it as compared to Morocco who had just 33 per cent. The Belgium team had three shots on target while Morocco had four.