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30 January 2017

Egypt progress thanks to late winner

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Egypt edged Morocco 1-0 in Port-Gentil on Sunday night to advance into the semifinals of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Pharaohs’ first win over their north African rivals for more than 30 years was secured by a late goal from substitute Mahmoud ‘Kahraba’ Abdel-Moneim, setting up a clash with Burkina Faso in the last four on Wednesday.

After a cagey opening, the first chance of the game went the way of Egypt in the 15th minute. Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross from the right fell for Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan, who shot powerfully to the near post but was denied by goalkeeper Munir Mohand.

Just under 20 minutes later Morocco blew a great chance to claim the lead, with defender Romain Saïss missing a clear shooting chance from just a couple of metres out, before putting a looping header onto the top of the crossbar.

Egypt suffered an injury blow just a few minutes before the break when they were forced into substituting striker Marwan Mohsen. Portuguese-based Ahmed ‘Koka’ Hassan replaced him in the 43rd minute.

The Pharaohs almost claimed the lead four minutes after the restart when Mohamed Salah burst free down the right side of the penalty area, but his stinging volley was brilliantly saved by Mohand.

It was then Morocco’s turn to threaten the opening goal, with Nabil Dirar’s teasing cross almost giving Aziz Bouhaddouz a tap-in, before Mbark Boussoufa rattled the crossbar with a long-range effort in the 55th minute.

Morocco looked the likelier scorers through the second half, but they needed Mohand to make another remarkable save to deny Salah in the 77th minute after a brilliantly-executed free-kick routine had handed the attacker a clear scoring chance.

However, there was nothing Mohand could do to stop Mahmoud ‘Kahraba’ Abdel-Moneim from scoring the decisive goal in the 88th minute. The substitute prodded a loose ball home from close range after some poor defending at a corner kick by the Moroccans.

 

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