* Youssef En-Nesyri grabs winner for Morocco
* Polished efficiency places them via to knockouts (Provides particulars)
CAIRO, June 28 (Reuters) – Morocco reached the knockout stage of the Africa Cup of Nations after beating Ivory Coast 1-Zero on Friday to serve discover that they’re one of many sides to beat on the event in Egypt.
Youssef En-Nesyri’s 23rd-minute aim ensured a second win in Group D for Morocco, who transfer onto six factors and be part of fellow heavyweights Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria with a 100 % report.
The win got here after a refined efficiency by the north African aspect, one of many pre-tournament favourites however whose solely success within the continental championship got here 43 years in the past.
The aim was brilliantly crafted by Noureddine Amrabat’s mazy run as he eradicated 4 gamers, earlier than a brief ‘no-look’ move arrange En-Nesyri for a left-footed end.
The pair continued to mix and threaten all through the sport and Morocco may have added one or two extra to safe a extra decisive victory.
A powerful counter-attacking run by Morocco fullback Achraf Hakimi nearly led to a second aim within the 34th minute as Amrabat performed a wise dummy to permit En-Nesyri a shot.
The tall striker from Leganes, nonetheless, hit his effort straight at Ivory Coast goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo.
Simply earlier than that, a mistake by Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou nearly allowed the Ivorians to equalise. He got here out to clear however allowed the ball to spill, just for Serey Die to hit the aspect netting.
Morocco managed to snuff out the hazard of Ivorian striker Nicolas Pepe, however discovered substitute Wilfried Bony a handful to take care of. Bony’s aerial power arrange two half possibilities because the Ivorians surprisingly left Wilfried Zaha on the bench.
Pepe, recent from a goal-filled season in Ligue 1, ultimately did get an effort on track with an acrobatic bicycle kick within the final minute however Bounou made a very good cease to maintain Morocco’s lead intact.
Morocco then had the final likelihood of the sport with Hakimi’s run offering a cross for the unmarked Noussair Mazraoui, who solely needed to sidefoot the ball residence however hit his effort towards the crossbar.
The Ivory Coast keep on three factors, however shall be assured of progressing out of the group section with a sport to return towards minnows Namibia on Monday.
Namibia and South Africa will search for their first factors of the event once they face one another in Group D afterward Friday on the Al Salam Stadium. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Modifying by Toby Davis)