Morocco blanks Belgium in World Cup shocker to remain undefeated in Canada's group
Costa Rica recovers from blowout loss to Spain by rallying late to beat Japan
Morocco pulled off another shock at the World Cup on Sunday in Doha, Qatar, beating Belgium 2-0 to leave Kevin de Bruyne and the 2018 semifinalists in peril of a group-stage exit.
Substitute Abdelhamid Sabiri got one past Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois by whipping in a free kick from a tight angle at the near post in the 73rd minute for Morocco's first goal. Zakaria Aboukhlal then guided a shot into the roof of the net off a pass from Hakim Ziyech in stoppage time.
Belgium, ranked No. 2 in the world behind Brazil, had won its last seven group games at the World Cup. It was Morocco's first win at a World Cup since 1998 and only its third ever.
Belgium would have become the second team after defending champion France to qualify for the knockout stage if it had beaten the Moroccans.
In other Group F action, Canada lost 4-1 to Croatia, quashing its hopes of advancing to the round of 16.
Belgium will next play 2018 finalist Croatia in its final group match, while the Canadians will go home after wrapping up tournament play Thursday against Morocco, which will mark their first-ever World Cup game against a non-European opponent.
Morocco moved on to four points from two games with Belgium, second in the world rankings.
Brussels sees riots after Belgium loss
Police had to seal off parts of the centre of Brussels, deploy water cannons and fire tear gas to disperse crowds following violence during and after Morocco's win over Belgium.
Dozens of rioters overturned and torched a car, set electric scooters on fire and pelted cars with bricks. Police moved in after one person suffered facial injuries, said Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere.
Brussels mayor Philippe Close urged people to stay away from the city centre and said authorities were doing their utmost to keep order in the streets. Even subway and tram traffic had to be interrupted on police orders.
There were also disturbances in the city of Antwerp.
Police in neighbouring Netherlands said violence erupted in the port city of Rotterdam, with riot officers attempting to break up a group of 500 soccer supporters who pelted police with fireworks and glass. Media reported unrest in the capital Amsterdam and The Hague.
Morocco's victory was a major upset at the World Cup and was enthusiastically celebrated by fans with Moroccan immigrant roots in many Belgian cities.
It was not immediately clear how many people were detained during the disturbances.
Canadian-born Morocco goalie misses game
Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou mysteriously disappeared before kickoff.
Bounou, who was born in Canada, was named to the starting lineup, came out with his team and sang the national anthem before kickoff as usual. But, when the game started, reserve keeper Monir El Kajoui was in Morocco's goal.
While there was no immediate explanation from the Morocco team or match officials at Al Thumama Stadium, Moroccan TV channel 2M said on its official Twitter account Bounou had felt dizzy right before kickoff and asked to be replaced.
The 31-year-old Bounou is Morocco's No. 1 goalkeeper and plays for Spanish club Sevilla. He played in Morocco's 0-0 draw with Croatia in the opening round of group games
Costa Rica rallies to beat Japan
Keysher Fuller scored in the 81st minute to lift Costa Rica to a 1-0 victory over Japan on Sunday, leaving both teams with three points after two games in Group E of the World Cup in Qatar.
Fuller took advantage of a defensive error when Japan failed to clear the ball and hit the net from 18 metres just off the fingertips of leaping Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda.
The match at Ahmad Bin Ali stadium in Al Rayyan was tactical and largely lacklustre, particularly in a first half that did not yield a single shot on goal. The second half was slightly better with Japan pressing throughout until Costa Rica broke through.
Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas came up with several rapid fire saves in the final minutes to ensure the victory.
Japan has one Group E game remaining with Spain, and Costa Rica faces Germany in its final group match. With a victory, Japan could have all but wrapped up a place in the knockout stage after a 2-1 upset of Germany in its opener. Costa Rica was pounded by Spain 7-0 in its first game and just trying to survive.
Japan had the edge in corners, shots, and possession but could not find the net.
The first half might have been one of the worst of the tournament that has already seen four 0-0 draws. Neither team had a shot on goal in a tactical stalemate.
Frenetic pace to start second half
Ritsu Doan, who scored one of Japan's goals in the 2-1 win over Germany, looked the most threatening early with runs down the right side looking to cut in crosses.
Costa Rica's most menacing player always looked like Joel Campbell, trying to use his speed on the left flank.
There was more action in the first two minutes after the break than in the entire first half.
Hidemasa Morita tested Navas with a blistering shot in the first minute, and Takuma Asano forced another save a minute later.
Despite Japan's attacking intent, the late defensive error cost the team, which seemed headed for a draw and a valuable point.
Japan, which is appearing it its seventh straight World Cup, has reached the knockout stage on three occasions, losing each time in the round of 16. Costa Rica reached the quarter-finals in Brazil in 2014.
Japan may not win the World Cup, but it's winning goodwill with its tradition of cleaning up fan areas and player dressing rooms after the match. This dates from Japan's first appearance in the World Cup in 1998. This time Japanese team officials have arrived with 8,000 trash bags with thank-you greetings in Arabia, Japanese, and English.
With files from CBC Sports