What a climax to the Last 16. From the seventh goalless draw of the tournament – equalling the record – that led to a memorable Moroccan penalty shoot-out to the biggest win in a Last 16 match Portugal’s 6-1 shellacking of Switzerland, including the first hat-trick of the tournament from Gonçalo Ramos, more of whom later.
MOROCCO ROCK SPAIN – Morocco’s steely defence withstood the expected Spanish pressure and have conceded a solitary goal in their four matches, and an own goal at that against one of the two pointless teams in Qatar, Canada. The Atlas Lions, helped by a terrible set of Spanish spot kicks, qualified for the quarter-finals for the first time, becoming the fourth African country to reach this stage and the first from North Africa.
RAMOS RAMS HOME ADVANTAGE – Having replaced the sulky Ronaldo, Gonçalo Ramos scored the first hat-trick of the tournament and broke a few records on the way. This was his first start at a World Cup and he joins the likes of Argentina’s Guillermo Stabile who was the first to achieve this feat in the inaugural World Cup in 1930. A few other notables also on this list include Poland’s Ernst Willimwoski who scored four in 1938 and Just Fontaine in 1958 by scoring trebles on their full debut*. At the tender age of 21, Ramos is the youngest hat-trick scorer since Hungary’s Florian Albert in 1962.
LAST 16 GOALS GALORE – Portugal’s 6-1 win over Switzerland is the biggest victory margin in a Last 16 match, eclipsing Iberian neighbour Spain’s 5-1 thrashing of Denmark in 1986. 2022’s Last 16 has featured 28 goals – the most of any World Cup, previously the most was 26 in 1986. 2022 also set a record with five teams scoring at least three goals – Netherlands, France and England , Brazil  and Portugal .
After all those goals and records we all need a rest and we have two days to recover before the quarter-finals start on Friday. And breathe…
*Full list of debutant hat-trick scores to follow.