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Boufal blasts Morocco past Black Stars

Morocco playmaker Sofiane Boufal capped Monday’s Man of the Match performance by striking home an 83rd minute winner to lead the Atlas Lions to a 1-0 victory over Ghana in their Group C matchup at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Following the win, Morocco are now favorites to win Group C and will gain plenty of confidence from winning despite missing several key players.

The first half saw both teams struggle to make progress when attempting attacking movements. Morocco were missing several key starters in the attack and failed to threaten during the run of play. Opportunities early on were confined to set pieces and Morocco were more dangerous with center back and captain Romain Saïss a regular threat. Morocco’s best first half chance came in the 40th minute after Boufal cleverly moved past Ghana midfielder Thomas Partey to draw a free kick. Boufal’s in swinging drive found Saïss but his flick header went over the bar.

Ghana showed a bit of life just before halftime and early in the second half. In the 43rd minute, right winger Joseph Paintsil went on a surging run into the heart of the Moroccan defense but got his finish all wrong at the edge of the penalty area by hitting the ball high and wide. Paintsil would pop up again in the 72nd minute when Saïss cleared a Kamaldeen Sulemana cross out to the Genk forward, who lined up a curling effort that drew a good save from Atlas Lions keeper Yassine Bounou.

Morocco made a push towards the end and found the winner in the final ten minutes. AZ Alkmaar forward Zakaria Aboukhlal made a dribbling run past a couple of Ghanaian defenders into the box. Partey made it back to intervene but tackled the ball back towards his goal, where Boufal was first to react and drove the ball past Black Stars keeper Joe Wollacott from close range. Ghana failed to stage a late run and Wollacott did brilliantly to deny from close range in stoppage time to keep the match close.

Highlights of the match are below. Ghana will Gabon next and Morocco take on Comoros for the next set of Group C fixtures on Friday.

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