Iago Aspas' late equalizer ensured that not only Spain would stay in the World Cup, but it would win Group B thanks to a 2-2 draw with Morocco on Monday afternoon:
VAR awards Iago Aspas a goal off the corner to pull Spain back level! pic.twitter.com/KzNS9LPN4A— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 25, 2018
Entering the match with four points and a plus-one goal differential, which was tied for the Group B lead with Portugal, Spain had to come up with a decisive win in order to earn a top seed heading into the Round of 16.
The problem was Spain got off to a disastrous start as Khalid Boutaib was allowed to come in alone on goal after miscommunication at the back between Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos in the 14th minute. He coolly slid a left-footed shot past David De Gea to give his side an incredibly unlikely lead:
MOROCCO TAKE THE LEAD OVER SPAIN!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 25, 2018
Iniesta and Ramos lose the ball in midfield and Boutaib takes advantage. pic.twitter.com/s1GpylxGI5
Spain managed a quick response just five minutes later as Isco roofed in an assist from Iniesta, who made up for his earlier mistake to help round off a brilliant team move:
Iniesta makes up for his mistake!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 25, 2018
A beautiful team goal ends with an Iniesta assist to Isco that makes it 1-1. pic.twitter.com/g9FvCMJYRO
But Boutaib almost found a second for Morocco in the 25th minute as once again he was allowed to move in on De Gea uncontested. This time, the Spanish keeper was up to it and came up with his first save of the entire tournament.
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Morocco saw another big chance just miss when Noureddine Amrabat unleashed a screamer of a shot from 20 yards out that rang off a rooted De Gea's post in the 56th minute:
Morocco *nearly* re-take the lead as Amrabat hits the woodwork! pic.twitter.com/4qRIcNsBoT— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 25, 2018
Isco has a chance for his second just moments later but his header was cleared off the line by Ghanem Saiss. The ensuing corner in the 63rd minute saw Gerard Pique's header go inches wide of the post.
Spain's hopes of winning the group took a huge hit in the 81st minute when Youssef En-Nesyri towered above the Spanish defense on a corner and thundered in a corner to give Morocco the lead:
? MOROCCO RE-TAKE THE LEAD! ? pic.twitter.com/4S258VcHDF— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 25, 2018
But Aspas would save Spain in the first minute of stoppage time when his goal that was originally deemed offsides was overturned.
In the same moment across the country, a VAR review gifted Iran a late penalty against Portugal, which allowed the Asian club to tie the match at one. The goal ensured that Spain would win the group and take on Russia in the Round of 16.