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Morocco send holders Ivory Coast packing as DR Congo top group

CAN 2017 | GROUP C

Morocco send holders Ivory Coast packing as DR Congo top group

Morocco send holders Ivory Coast packing as DR Congo top group

ISSOUF SANOGO

AFP

Alioui scored a spectacular winner for Morocco to defeat holders Ivory Coast 1-0 and advance to the quarter-finals of CAN 2017 at the expense of the defending champions on Tuesday.

Nîmes Olympique striker Rachid Alioui scored a spectacular winner for Morocco to defeat holders Ivory Coast 1-0 and advance to the quarter-finals of the African Nations Cup finals at the expense of the defending champions on Tuesday.

French-born Alioui netted from 35 metres to take coach Herve Renard's side into the knockout stages and end the hopes of the country the latter led to the continental title two years ago in Equatorial Guinea.

Ivory Coast's goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo concedes a goal during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group C football match between Morocco and Ivory Coast in Oyem on January 24, 2017.

Holders head home

Morocco finished runners-up in Group C with six points, one behind pool winners the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fancied Ivorians, who managed just two goals and two points in their three matches in Gabon, had to settle for third.

Ivory Coast joined two other high-profile first-round casualties already knocked out of the tournament, Algeria and hosts Gabon.

It took 25 minutes for the first real threat to either goal and it was Morocco who went close as Faycal Fajr's free kick had the beating of Ivory Coast keeper Sylvain Gbohouo but cannoned back off the crossbar.

In a half of few chances, the next two fell the way of Ivory Coast and they should have profited from at least one of them.  

Zaha back to London

Veteran Salomon Kalou provided an excellent run and pass to former England international Wilfried Zaha in acres of space on the left-hand side of the box but the Crystal Palace winger’s shot was straight at the Moroccan keeper.

Morocco's midfielder Nabil Dirar pulls the jersey of Ivory Coast's forward Wilfred Zaha (R) during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group C football match between Morocco and Ivory Coast in Oyem

A minute before the break Wilfried Bony's flick-on found Kalou at the back post but his header hit the woodwork and the chance was gone.

The first 20 minutes of the second period saw the Ivorians have the majority of the possession but a swift break from Morocco led to substitute Alioui's decisive moment.

The 24-year-old, who plays in the French second division, picked up the ball, spotted Gbohouo off his line and masterfully curled his shot into the top corner.

The North African side soaked up some heavy Ivorian pressure after that but were able to comfortably see out the game to set up a quarter-final meeting on Sunday with the winners of Group D. That will be either Ghana or Egypt, who clash on Wednesday in Port Gentil for top spot, with the former needing just a draw to secure the pool win.

DR Congo march on

In the other Group C game, Junior Kabananga kept up his goal-scoring form at the African Nations Cup to help send the Democratic Republic of Congo into the quarter-finals as they beat Togo 3-1 on Tuesday and finished top of Group C.

Democratic Republic of the Congo's players celebrate a goal during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group C football match between Togo and DR Congo in Port-Gentil

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