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Spain top Group B after lively 2-2 draw against Morocco

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Spain top Group B after lively 2-2 draw against Morocco

Spain top Group B after lively 2-2 draw against Morocco
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REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
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Spain topped Group B after a thrilling 2-2 draw with Morocco.

They started the first half dominating possession but their play lacked tempo and a mistake between Iniesta and Ramos gave the ball to Boutaib, who raced clear and slipped the ball under De Gea, putting Morocco ahead.

The Moroccan lead didn't last long, however, as Isco levelled the score five minutes later. Spain moved the ball brilliantly and slipped Iniesta into the channel, he then got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Isco, who lifted it into the roof of the net.

Morocco had another chance through Boultaib when Spain appeared to have gone to sleep. The North African team took a quick throw-in and Boultaib was, again, in on the goal but this time De Gea stood up to the challenge.

In the second half, Spain increasingly pushed forwards and pressured Morocco but couldn't find a way through, a mistake for which they paid dearly — Morocco won their first corner of the game in the 81st minute and a ball delivered by Fajr was headed in by En Nesyri.

The North African team thought they'd won it, but the drama wasn't over yet. Spain took a quick, short corner and Carvahal delivered the ball in low, then Aspas flicked the ball in at the near post. The assistant's flag initially denied him the last-ditch attempt, the until VAR overturned the decision and awarded the goal.

Five takeaways from Spain vs Morocco

VAR

Not for the first time, VAR has made a game-changing decision. This time in the form of overturning the offside call for Iago Aspas' goal, a decision that, in this case, was entirely correct. In the eyes of many, this is what VAR was introduced for — to overturn decisions that are 100% wrong. One thing is for sure, it has had a massive impact on the outcome of this group and the route Spain take going forward in the World Cup.

Moroccan resilience

Spain may have gone into the game expecting a walkover and they certainly did not expect the game Morocco served up. The North African side were feisty and played extraordinarily well, especially considering they were already out of the tournament.

Morocco showed other teams exactly how you have to play against Spain in order to frustrate them and get a result. They may not have got the win but it very nearly did and would have been well deserved at that.

Spain have their weaknesses

Spain may have topped Group B but they were not without their problems on the way there. They conceded three against Portugal and two against Morocco, showing that although they may be impressive on the attack, they definitely have their frailties in their defence.

Lucky Gerard Pique?

Gerard Pique had one of those nights where he struggled and at the same time got lucky. In the eyes of some, Pique should have seen a red card for his two-footed challenge on Boutaib. He did win the ball but his studs were showing and he caught the Moroccan on the follow through. If the contact was heavier, the Barcelona man may have seen red — he can count himself very lucky indeed.

The next round

Going forward from this, we now know the first two fixtures of the knockout games, with Spain facing Russia. The hosts have been impressive so far but had a blip when they were defeated by Uruguay. Spain will be far happier facing Russia than Uruguay and they know the importance of Aspas' last-minute goal.