Morocco 4-0 Nigeria 2018 African Nations Championship: goals, action, report

LAFC vs LA Galaxy: Vela vs Zlatan live online, MLS week 25

El Kaabi, Hadraf (2), and El Karti scored as the Atlas Lions scythed through ten-man Nigeria to win the title in front of their own fans in Casablanca.

Atlético Madrid linked with a move for Morocco striker Ayoub El Kaabi. Read more. 

Morocco sauntered to a first African Nations Championship title with a 4-0 mauling of Nigeria in Casablanca.

Zakaria Hadraf opened the scoring on the brink of half-time, after Banoune and Jbira had combined neatly on the left flank. The Atlas Lions had dominated the first half, with star-man Ayoub El Kaabi grazing the crossbar with a bicycle kick.

Nigeria were inferior, and the disadvantage became numerical two minutes in to the second half, when 18-year-old Moses Eneji collected a second booking for an overenthusiastic tackle. 

Morocco took full advantage. Ismael El Haddadi tormented the stretched Nigerian defence, but it was El Karti who doubled the lead with half an hour remaining. Three minutes later, Hadraf added his second and Morocco's third. 

El Kaabi applied a layer of gloss to the victory in the 73rd minute, pouncing on a loose ball to score his ninth goal of the tournament. It was a fitting end from the player who has shone brighter than any other in Morocco. 

Morocco 4-0 Nigeria: as it happened

Zakaria Hadraf takes the man-of-the-match trophy for his two goals, while El Kaabi picks up his top-goalscorer prize. 

90'+3' FT! Morocco have won the 2018 African Nations Championship on home turf, and they have won it in style. 

90'+1'   Okpotu tries an overhead kick from the edge of the box. And why not? The soaked crowd whistle, eager for the match to end and the celebrations to begin. 

90'   Nanah races on to a lob, shoots first time, and rasps his shot past Ajiboye and past the post. 

88'   Morocco have resorted to taking pot-shots from distance, as players look for their spot on the newspaper back pages. 

87'   Saidi drops his shoulder and fizzes a dipping shot wide of the post. 

86'   Anthony Okpotu has a ball to run on to, and for a moment it looks like he might collect the pass. But the ball skids off the sodden surface and through to the 'keeper. 

84'   Morocco are playing at walking pace. 

83'   Banoune tackles Ibrahim, and the referee gives a free kick out of pity. That looked like an incredibly soft foul. In any case, there's no damage done. Ojo sends a weak cross straight on to the head of a Moroccan defender. 

81' El Kaabi, the tournament top scorer with nine goals goes off. Nanah replaces him

80'   Morocco are striking the ball around in midfield, winding down the clock until they can properly celebrate this victory. 

77' Benoun is booked for bringing down Ojo, and quite rightly too. Nigeria have their chance to break forward and Benoun puts it to a cynical, swift end. 

75'   The Atlas Lions are waiting to pounce for a fifth, as Nigeria centre-half Eze deflects the ball behind for a corner. 

74'   With 20 minutes still to play, Morocco could score six or seven. Nigeria are spent, both mentally and physically. They've not had a single shot in the second half (and only two in the entire match).

73' GOOOOOOL! It's four! El Kaabi finally has his goal! Nahiri lines up a shot from inside the box and completely scuffs it. Such is Morocco's luck this evening, it goes straight to El Kaabi, who converts from six yards. 

72' There'll be no hat-trick for Hadraf. He goes off, with Hammoudan on in his place. 

69'   The Nigerian midfield are not doing their defence any favours. They're not dropping back, allowing Morocco to constantly scythe through and isolate defenders. Of course, Nigeria have to try to score. But this tactic is suicidal. 

68'   El Kaabi has a free header on the six-yard line but somehow conspires to direct the ball straight at the 'keeper. He can launch himself in the air for bicycle kicks, but can't put that straightforward chance away. 

67'   Nahiri surges forward from right-back, Nahiri cuts inside, Nahiri keeps going... he shoots. 'Oooh' boom the crowd, as he stings the palms of Ajiboye. 

65'   Morocco are throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at Nigeria. It's wave after wave of attack. Hadraf dances in the box, in search of his hat-trick, but it doesn't quite fall for him. 

64' GOL GOL GOOOOOOL! It's another for Hadraf! Morocco sear forward on the counter-attack through Haddad. The 'keeper gets a fingertip to his cross, but only succeeds in directing it to Hadraf. He drives the ball in to the unguarded net. 

61' GOOOOOL! El Karti! His strike partner, El Kaabi, lashes another acrobatic shot against the post. The ball bounces out wide, but Jbira swings it in and the No.10 nods it in to the top corner. That establishes a comfortable cushion for Morocco. 

59'   Ooooh, Gabriel rushes on to the ball and dinks it over the 'keeper, but the flag is up. 

58' A second change for Nigeria: Oladapo takes the place of Ali. 

56'   El Kaabi has another chance, glancing a free header wide of goal. Morocco are increasing the intensity. 

55'   Ajiboye to the rescue for Nigeria! It looks for all the world like El Kaabi will double Morocco's lead from close range after the Super Eagles fail to clear a corner. The 'keeper makes a smart reflex save to deny the No.9. 

53' The leading scorer in the Nigerian Premier League, Anthony Okpotu, is on for Ogbuh. 

52' Boulhroude is the first Moroccan in to the book. His misdemeanour was a cynical barge on Ogbuh. 

51'   Some pathetic fallacy for Nigeria as the rain starts to hammer down. Members of the crowd frantically stretch for their umbrellas. 

50'   It looked difficult for Nigeria with 11v11. Now, with a one-man disadvantage, it's hard to see the Super Eagles overcoming their hosts. Although that said, they did manage to beat Sudan with ten men in the sem-final.

48' Red card! 18-year-old Moses Eneji receives a second yellow card, and with that, his marching orders. The teenager is guilty of over-enthusiasm with a lunge on Nahiri. The referee was left with no choice. 

46' Morocco get the second 45 minutes underway.

46' The teams come up a staircase and out in to the rain. The second half is about to get going. 

Badr Banoun is the only player in the Morocco team to have featured in their last competetive squad. The centre-half made his debut in a qualifier against Gabon back in October. His quality has been clear, particularly in the build-up to Morocco's goal. 

Haddad flying down the wing. The Wydad man has been the stand-out player in his home city. 

Moses Eneji has posed problems for Morocco on the left flank, but the Super Eagles have struggled to play with much coherence. They've been particularly weak from defensive set-pieces. 

Morocco have a deserved lead in a first half they dominated. The home side have been far more comfortable on the ball and far more threatening from set-pieces. El Kaabi and El Haddad have constantly menaced the Nigerian defence. 

46' HT. 

45' GOOOOOOOOOL! Hadraf opens the scoring! Gorgeous move from the home side. Banoune strides out of defence, and keeps on striding. He threads the ball to Jbira, who has overlapped from left-back. He cuts it back to Hadraf and he makes no mistake from ten yards out. 

44' Moses Eneji is the second Nigerian to be booked. He clatters El Haddad by the touchline. 

43'   Eze's heart is in his mouth for a moment as he slices the ball behind him. It looks for a second like El Kaabi will take advantage, but Atuloma saves his team-mate's blushes. 

42'   This is unlike any final I've seen. They're usually tepid and cagey. This is frenetic, end-to-end, and absolutely consuming. 

41'   Moses tries to trick his way past El Yamiq on the left. His cheeky attempt at a nutmeg doesn't come off. He's been Nigeria's main attacking threat, nonetheless. 

39'   It looks like Hadraf has taken the ball down and cut inside, towards the six-yard box. His burst inside is abruptly halted by the referee, who felt Hadraf had handled the ball as he controlled it. 

37'   Gabriel has an air shot at the far post after a floated cross dropped out of the Casablanca night sky. Once again, Morocco break clear and win a corner. This is not your usual, cagey final. Far from it. El Karti gets his head to the corner but doesn't make meaningful contact. Nigeria need to be more competetive when defending set pieces. 

35'   Oooh, Nahiri goes close! Hadraf floats a corner to the far post, it gets a head on, and Nahiri helps it on its way from six yards out. Agonisingly close to openig the scoring. 

34' Osas is the first player to have his name scribed in the referee's book. His crime was hauling down El Haddad. To be fair, most of the Nigeria time have been guilty of that already.

31'   El Yamiq meets the header with a combination of head and shoulder. Banoune went to the same ball and the centre-half pair got in each other's way. The header still ends up on target, but it's easy for Ajiboye to claim. 

29'   Atuloma stamps on El Haddad's foot, leaving the Wydad Casablanca winger writhing on the floor. The referee gives the Nigeria defender a ticking off. Moments later, El Haddad is back on the turf. He's being battered all over the place. Free-kick to Morocco and a chance for Hadraf to swing a cross in. 

28'   Nigeria captain Okogbue rubs his head after an aeriel clash with El Kaabi. He grimaces, but doesn't require the physio. Play goes on. 

25'   El Kaabi goes for another acrobatic effort, but slices it behind him and out towards the 'd'. Nigeria steam forward through Eneji on the left. He picks out Gabriel, who has drifted in from the right. He looks set to score until Banoune arrives with a timely block. 

23'   Eze shuttles across to the right wing to cut out El Haddad, who is steaming down the wing. 

22'   El Yamiq hangs at the far post and meets an outswinging corner. It's marginally too high and the big No.5 gets under the ball, sending it out on the athletics track behind the goal. 

20'   Nigeria enjoy a well-worked spell of possession, until Osas Okoro punts an aimless pass forward, which the Moroccan 'keeper can smother at the edge of his box. The Super Eagles have played well in short bursts, but they need to do so for five minutes, rather than 30 seconds. 

18'   Ali shoves Nahiri in the back, giving Morocco a chance to shoot from 30 yards. Nahiri dusts himself off, lines up the free-kick, and wallops it in to the wall. 

17'   El Haddad embarks on a powerful run towards the left of the box. It's all going well until he tries to find El Kaabi in the centre. His cross is loose and Nigeria clear. 

15'   Another superb chance for El Kaabi! The No.9 watches a cross loop in to the six-yard box and throws himself in the air with a bicycle kick. His acrobatic effort whistles just over the bar. He's living up to his 'man-to-watch' billing. 

14'   The referee has let a couple of borderline tackles slide in the centre of the pitch. He's keen to keep this flowing. 

12'   Hadraf takes the free-kick himself. It's from an acute angle so he opts to cross, rather than trying to beat the two-man wall. Atuloma rises highest at the near post to clear for the Super Eagles. 

11'   This linesman is very busy this evening. He hoists his flag once again. This time it's to penalises a reckless challenge by Utin on Hadraf. It's not clear that he actually made contact on the edge of the box, but it was a silly tackle. 

10'   Ogbuh grapples and tussles with Jbira on the edge of the box. A little too much for the referee's liking. He blows for a foul and Morocco relieve the danger. 

7' GOOOOAA... No! EL Kaadi heads the ball in to the net from a corner and wheels away in celebration, until he realises the linesman has raised his flag. The ball swung out of play and then back in as the corner entered the box. Good spot from the 'lino'. 

7'   The corner is delayed as Nahiri sits on the turf and holds his lower leg. He toddles off gingerly. 

5'   27-year-old Hadraf is about to swing a free-kick in from the left. He swings it in but Nigeria clear and gallop forward on the counter attack. Ojo goes down 25 yards out and appeals vigorously for a free-kick of his own. The referee waves it away and Morocco duly go back up the other end and win a corner. Frenetic stuff in the opening stages. 

3'   There's a thundering atmosphere in Casablanca, undampened by the heavy rain. The volume boom as Boulhroude cuts the ball back to El Karti on the edge of the six-yard box. He flicks an effort just wide of goal. All Morocco so far. 

2'   El Kaabi tries to spring the offside trap, but looks over his right shoulder to see the linesman raising his flag. A close call, but the correct one. 

1' Kick-off! Nigeria get us underway and promptly hoof the ball straight to Zniti, the Moroccan 'keeper.

The teams are on the pitch, the national anthems have been sung, and we're ready to go! 

In the third-place play-off aperitif to tonight's match, Sudan beat Libya 4-2 in Marrakech. Sudanese 'keeper Akram El Hadi was the hero, saving two penalties. 

Ten minutes until we get underway in Casablanca. That´s a perfect amount of time to read this excellent New York Times article, which explores the important of the African Nations Championship for young players and scouts. 

Here's a peak inside the Nigeria changing room from earlier today. 

Get to know Morocco star El Kaabi, with just over 30 minutes to go until kick-off in Casablanca. 


Nigeria XI: Ajiboye, Osas Okoro, Emeka Atuloma, Okogbue, Eze, Ogbug, Ali, Eneji, Utin, Dayo Ojo, Okechukwu.

Morocco XI: Zniti, El Yamiq, Boulhroude, Hadraf, Saidi, El Kaabi, El Karti, El Haddad, Banoune, Nahiri, Jbira. 

The Morocco supporters are making themselves well-heard, and have been for some time. 

Hello and welcome to our coverage of Morocco vs Nigeria in the final of the 2018 African Nations Championsip!