Big disappointment for Morocco. Yet in the lead from the 7and minute, the Atlas Lions were overthrown and eliminated from CAN 2021 by Egypt in overtime (1-2 ap) this Sunday in the quarter-finals at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé. Scorer then decisive passer, Mohamed Salah left his mark on this highly contested but unspectacular clash. The Pharaohs will challenge hosts Cameroon on Thursday for a place in the final.
From their first offensive, Vahid Halilhodzic’s men benefited from a penalty logically granted after recourse to the VAR following a foul by Ashraf, which mowed down Hakimi in the area. In excellent form, Boufal transformed him into strength by taking Abou Gabal on the wrong foot (0-1, 7and). Paradoxically, instead of putting the Moroccans on the way, this goal encouraged them to distort their possession game by leaving the ball to the Egyptians who were very nervous about each referee’s decision and too timid in their reaction.
Morocco scores quickly… then falls asleep
Carlos Queiroz’s men took advantage of this physiognomy to be threatening on long shots from Ashraf then Fetouh, each time repelled by a vigilant Bounou despite the forest of players present in front of him. Dominated, the Atlas Lions showed nothing more offensively since the opener… Their worries were accentuated when they returned from the locker room with the offensive change made by Queiroz, who replaced the injured central defender Hegazy with the winger Trezeguet!
Found by Salah in the box, the Aston Villa player immediately stood out with a shot that was too crossed and grazed the post. The Pharaohs were much sharper and were quickly rewarded. On a corner from Marmoush, Abdelmonem, with a header, forced Bounou into a superb save, but the ball came back to Salah who equalized at close range (1-1, 53and). It was then necessary to come back in extremis from Saiss, excellent this evening, in front of Marmoush to save the furniture…
Salah doubly decisive
This goal had the merit of bringing the Moroccans out of their torpor. The Atlas Lions were finally starting to hold the ball. During the last 20 choppy and incredibly messy minutes, with in particular the start of a general fight following a clash between Hakimi and Mostafa Mohamed, both warned, Morocco tried to push and obtained a succession of free kicks. On one of them, El-Haddadi found the head of Aguerd who thought to put his team back in the lead, but Abou Gabal diverted the ball on the bar with a superb reflex save! Injured in the adductor on this action, the usual replacement for Mohamed El-Shenawi, also injured, however refused to give up his place despite several alerts, which contributed a little more to chopping up an already very disjointed game…
At the start of extra time, the doorman ended up agreeing to leave and Mohamed Sobhy (22) replaced him by honoring his first selection! In this always choppy meeting, the difference finally came from the feet of Salah, who played Aguerd before slipping a caviar to Trezeguet who emerged to resume victoriously at the far post (2-1, 100and). Far from reacting, the Moroccans showed themselves to be unimaginative in the absence of Boufal, who came out in the 66th minute, and they did not even manage to solicit Sobhy. Clearly, we were closer to 3-1 than 2-2, Salah even missing a match point in the last seconds to the right of a goal deserted by Bounou. As in 2017, the Pharaohs put an end to the adventure of the Atlas Lions in the quarter-finals.