CAIRO (AP) — Morocco beat Ivory Coast 1-0 to qualify for the last 16 from the African Cup of Nations’ so-called group of death and give coach Herve Renard another victory over his former team on Friday.
Youssef En-Nesyri slotted home for the only goal in the first half having been set up by a defense-splitting pass by Nordin Amrabat. Morocco is the first team through from Group D, which contains three former champions in Morocco, Ivory Coast and South Africa.
Egypt, Nigeria and Algeria had already qualified for the last 16.
Renard’s Morocco also beat and eliminated Ivory Coast at the 2017 African Cup. Renard coached Ivory Coast to the 2015 title before moving on to Morocco. The Frenchman is seeking a third title with a third different team having also won the African Cup with Zambia in 2012.
Renard masterminded another win over the Ivorians in Egypt and Morocco probably should have won by two or three goals on the balance of play at Al Salam Stadium in Cairo.
One was enough. Amrabat weaved infield from the left wing leaving defenders in his wake before timing a pass perfectly to put En-Nesyri clear for the goal.
In Group E, Wahbi Khazri’s deflected free kick in the 70th minute rescued a 1-1 draw for Tunisia against Mali and kept that group tight.
Khazri was aiming for the top right corner of the goal when the ball deflected off the defensive wall and looped into the bottom left corner, leaving Mali goalkeeper Djigui Diarra helpless.
Mali had led after an error from Tunisia goalkeeper Hassan Mouez, who came out to catch a corner and let the ball slip through his hands and into the goal.
Mali leads Tunisia by two points in the standings. The other teams in that group are Mauritania and Angola.
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