Morocco win Ghana 1-0 through Boufal’s late strike
Morocco ran away with victory over Ghana with a 1-0 win in their opening game at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon on Monday.
Sofiane Boufal’s late strike won full points for The Atlas Lions in the Group C fixture at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde.
The North Africans have consequently taken an early lead on the table, ahead of the second group tie between Comoros and Gabon.
Having joined camp late on Saturday, Kamaldeen Sulemana’s presence in the starting XI was the biggest surprise as Ghana named their side for Monday’s showdown.
Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey led Ghana’s midfield while Genk forward Joseph Paintsil started on the left-wing.
Without key strikers Youssef En-Nesyri and Ayoub El Kaabi, Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic handed a starting berth to AZ Alkmaar youngster Zakaria Aboukhlal as lead marksman.
Paris Saint-Germain full-back Achraf Hakimi unsurprisingly started at right-back for The Atlas Lions.
In what was a slow start to the game, Aboukhlal registered the first shot on target in the 14th minute after latching onto a misplaced Partey pass to fire a shot into the arms of goalkeeper Joseph Wollacott.
In the 33rd minute, Partey drove a free-kick over the bar after Jordan Ayew was fouled outside the box.
Five minutes to half-time at the other end, Romain Saiss headed a free-kick over the bar.
The lack of clear openings continued even after the recess, leaving the goalkeepers with little to do.
On 65th minutes, Andre Ayew connected with a Baba Rahman delivery into the box but his volley flew high off-target.
In the 72nd minute, Ghana almost broke the deadlock when Paintsil released a curling shot towards the far-right corner but goalkeeper Yassine Bounou did well to tip the shot away.
When Morocco put a shot on target in the second half, it ended up at the back of the net as Sofiane Boufal capitalised on a loose ball inside the box to fire past Wollacot eight minutes to full time.
The Black Stars tried to find a late equaliser but their effort was not enough as the Atlas Lions ran away with all three points.
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