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FIFA Arab Cup: Algeria edge out rivals Morocco in penalties, Egypt defeat Jordan after extra time

A clash between neighbors and rivals in the quarterfinals at the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup will go down in history as one of the remarkable duels between Algeria and Morocco, with Algeria emerging as victors on Saturday in a penalty kick shootout after the teams tied 2-2 in regulation. Mohamed Tougai put in the winning penalty kick as Algeria went a perfect 5-for-5 from the spot while goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi came up big to deny Morocco’s Karim El Berkaoui, setting up Tougai’s moment of glory. In another thrilling match earlier in the day, Africa’s other representative advanced as Egypt made it past Jordan by a 3-1 score following extra time.

There was hardly anything to separate Morocco and Algeria throughout the ninety minutes and nobody was disappointed to see another thirty minutes of football between the teams. The first half brought few opportunities for either side, but the second half and extra time were different stories entirely. The action picked up about fifteen minutes after halftime when a Video Assistant Referee review called attention to a trip in the Egyptian penalty area by Morocco’s Mohamed Chibi as Algeria’s Houssem Mrezigue dribbled by, resulting in a penalty kick. Yacine Brahimi put the resulting spot kick just beyond keeper Anas Zniti for Algeria to take the lead.

It took less than two minutes for Morocco to equalize. A free kick from the right wing saw Abdeliliah Hafidi send in a service that found Raja Casablanca teammate Mohamed Nahiri at the far post, whose header was too powerful for M’Bolhi to keep out. Despite several shots on target and opportunities in the second half, the match was destined for extra time to decide the winner.

A 102nd minute kick up the field by M’Bolhi seemed harmless, but after Youcef Belaïli took the ball down and unleashed a fierce shot from forty meters out, Zniti could not scramble back quick enough to keep the looping effort out of his goal and Algeria appeared to be on their way to victory. However, another header brought Morocco level again. In the 111th minute, Chibi’s free kick from the right wing found Al Ahly center back Badr Benoun for a perfectly placed header that went beyond M’Bolhi’s dive to equalize. Penalty kicks were indeed the only way to separate the teams, and after both teams made their first three attempts without issue, M’Bolhi denied El Berkaoui to set up Tougai’s dramatic winning kick.

In the earlier match, Egypt faced a fierce challenge from Jordan but triumphed in extra time to secure passage to the semifinals. Egypt knew they were in for a battle in the 12th minute when Jordan’s Yazan Al-Naimat received a pass, turned, and unleashed a beautiful curling shot that flew by goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy to open the scoring. El Shenawy was under fire for much of the first half, and was saved by the frame of his goal just before halftime when another curling effort went by him, off the crossbar and then the post before bouncing out.

Despite a tough Jordanian side, Egypt stayed tough and found a massive leveler just before halftime. In first half stoppage time, Ahmed Sayed “Zizo” launched in a cross from the right flank that found Zamalek teammate Marwan Hamdy for a brilliantly redirected header that went past Jordanian keeper Yazid Abu Layla. Egypt went on to dominate the second half but could not find a winner, requiring extra time to separate the teams. In the 100th minute, it was substitute Ahmed Refaat who was alert in the box to meet Mohamed Sherif’s low cross with a first-time finish past Abu Layla. Just before the end of the extra period it was Marwan Dawoud who finished off the match by heading in Refaat’s floated cross to make it 3-1 in the 119th minute.

Highlights from both games are in the links below.

Algeria 2-2 Morocco Highlights (Algeria wins on PK’s)
Egypt 3-1 Jordan AET Highlights

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