Morocco eased into the knockout phase of the Africa Cup of Nations on Friday but fellow title contenders Senegal again laboured in front of goal as they were held by Guinea, while chaotic scenes followed Ghana’s 1-1 draw with Gabon.
Only Senegal sit above Morocco among African teams in the Fifa world rankings and the Atlas Lions made it two wins and two clean sheets from two matches at this Afcon as they beat tournament debutants the Comoros 2-0 at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde.
Selim Amallah gave the 1976 champions an early lead and then set up substitute Zakaria Aboukhlal to seal the win a minute from time with a goal that was initially disallowed for offside before being given following a VAR check.
In between, Vahid Halilhodzic’s Morocco side were regularly frustrated as Nayef Aguerd hit the underside of the crossbar with a header and Comoros goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina produced some heroic saves.
After losing the 2019 final to Algeria, Senegal have high hopes of finally winning a first continental title in Cameroon but they needed a 97th-minute Sadio Mane penalty to beat Zimbabwe 1-0 in their opening game and on Friday drew 0-0 with west-African neighbours Guinea in Bafoussam.
As Mane came up against his Liverpool teammate Naby Keita, the drab draw in the capital of Cameroon’s West region left both sides well placed to advance to the last 16 from Group B.
Senegal and Guinea sit on four points while Malawi are just behind them after coming from behind to triumph 2-1 over Zimbabwe.
Appearing at only their third Cup of Nations, Malawi’s Flames claimed just their second-ever win at the finals and will go into their last game against Senegal with a chance of making the knockout stages.
Ishmael Wadi headed Zimbabwe in front in the 38th minute, but Frank Mhango of Orlando Pirates quickly equalised and then scored the winner just before the hour mark.
While Malawi dream of reaching the knockout phase for the first time, Zimbabwe have failed to win any of their last eight games at the Afcon finals.
In the final game of the day Ghana’s hopes of qualifying for the Afcon last 16 took a blow after they conceded a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with Gabon in Yaounde on Friday.
Andre Ayew gave the Black Stars the lead at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, but Jim Allevinah’s superb 88th-minute strike earned Gabon a point that leaves them in a strong position to reach the knockout phase.
It was a bitter end to the game for the four-time champions, who were furious that Gabon scored after opting not to return the ball when Ghana put it out of play after one of the Gabon players went down injured.
After a shoving match broke out on the pitch at full time, the referee summoned a Ghanaian back out from the dressing room to brandish a red card.
The player in question appeared to be Benjamin Tetteh, with TV footage showing that he punched Gabon’s Aaron Boupendza during the melee.
The result leaves Ghana with just one point in Group C, with Gabon on four and Morocco – who secured qualification after beating the Comoros 2-0 earlier – now certain to advance as one of the top two.
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