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Morocco push past Comoros and valiant keeper Ben Boina

Goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina put in a spectacular shot stopping display, but Comoros succumbed to a persistent Morocco team 2-0 at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations on Friday. Selim Amallah opened the scoring for the Atlas Lions in the first half before Zakaria Aboukhlal’s late strike finished off any hopes of a Comorian comeback. Morocco remain at the top of Group C with their next match against Gabon while Comoros need a win against Ghana for any hope of making it to the Round of 16.

There was plenty of energy from the Comoros side, who were unafraid to push forward in the early stages against the heavily favored Moroccans. However, the Atlas Lions largely dominated and claimed the lead in the 16th minute. Attacking right back Achraf Hakimi got to the end line and his cross eventually found Ayoub El Kaabi. The striker’s shot was blocked, but Amallah was there to collect the rebound and found an opening to rocket his shot past the crowd and Ben Boina for the game’s first goal.

Morocco had a couple more opportunities before halftime. In the 36th minute, Nayaf Aguerd rose up to meet a corner kick and direct a powerful header off the crossbar before the ball bounced clear. El Kaabi got behind the Comorian defense a couple of minutes later, but after rounding Ben Boina a defender was able to get back and clear.

The second half was a source of great frustration for Morocco despite their dominance as Ben Boina stole the show. The Comoros goalkeeper, playing his club football in the French fifth tier, was under fire but did brilliantly to come up with multiple saves to keep his team in the match. In the 77th minute, Ben Boina denied Hakimi from a long free kick and soon after somehow prevented the ball from crossing the goal line following a Moroccan attack that looked sure to end with a goal. Morocco were awarded a penalty kick in the 83rd minute but Ben Boina was there again to deny Youssef En Nesyri.

However, Comoros could not generate much going forward and eventually it was Aboukhlal who finally found a way past Ben Boina before second half stoppage time. Aboukhlal’s strike was initially waved off due to offside but the Video Assistant Referee overturned the decision and awarded Morocco their second goal.

Highlights of the match are below.

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