CHAN 2018: Morocco dispatch Libya to make final

Ayoub El Kaabi
The Atlas Lions are through to the climax of the biennial tournament after accounting for the Mediterranean Knights in Casablanca

Hosts Morocco turned on the heat in extra-time to register a 3-1 victory over Libya in the semi-finals of the African Nations Championship.

The Atlas Lions scored two late goals following a 1-1 draw after regulation time to book a place in Sunday’s final.

And all was down to Ayoub El Kaabi and Walid El Karti, who found the back of the net after Abdulrahman Khalleefah cancelled out El Kaabi’s earlier opener for the hosts at Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca.

Jamal Sellami’s side await the winner of the Nigeria/Sudan fixture for a showdown in Sunday’s final.

After a barren first-half, the game lit up in the second stanza.

In the 63rd minute, Libya almost took the lead when Saleh Taher connected with Mohamed Aleyat’s cross with a header, but Abdeljalil Jbira was alert to keep the ball from crossing the line.

The first goal of the match came in the 73rd minute when El Kaabi, left unmarked, directed a glancing header into the net following Zakaria Hadraf’s cross.

The Mediterranean Knights, however, responded in the 86th minute to level the score. In goalkeeper Anas Zniti’s attempt to dribble Khalleefah, the shot-stopper’s over-hit ball fell into the path of Saleh Taher, who pulled it back for Khalleefah to slot the ball into an empty net.

That was the last real action before Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe whistled to end normal time.

Seven minutes into extra-time, Morocco struck again, and who else to do the damage than El Kaabi, who took his goal tally to eight in the tournament.

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After Hadraf sent a cross into the box, the ball came off Khalleefah before falling to El Kaabi, who tapped in from close range.

The hosts could have made it 3-1 soon afterwards, but Badr Boulhroude could not direct his free-header on target when Hadraf delivered another cross into the box.

Two minutes to the end of extra-time, the Atlas Lions put the game beyond reach as El Karti, having been brought down by Ahmed El Trbi in the box, converted the penalty to make it 3-1.