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Salah makes the difference as Egypt emerge victorious over Morocco in North African derby

Egypt continued their revival in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, following up their surprise Round of 16 victory over Ivory Coast with a 2-1 quarterfinal win over rivals Morocco after extra time on Sunday. Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah scored Egypt’s equalizer and provided the cross for Trezeguet’s winner to help the Pharaohs overcome conceding an early goal. The victory sets up a showdown between Egypt and hosts Cameroon on Thursday.

High-flying Morocco were confident they could get the job done against an Egyptian team that has shown plenty of weakness in Cameroon, and a dream start seemed to confirm the superiority of the Atlas Lions. In the 3rd minute star right back Achraf Hakimi blew by an Egyptian defender before striding towards the end line. As Hakimi continued his run the Paris Saint-Germain player was taken down just inside the penalty area by a slide tackle from Aymen Ashraf. Following a Video Assistant Review, a penalty kick was given and Sofiane Boufal stepped up to deliver a perfect spot kick by goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal.

Despite the disastrous start, Egypt did excellently to regain their composure and slowly get back into the match. Morocco keeper Yassine Bounou was drawn into action to save off long range efforts from Ashraf and Ahmed El-Fatouh before the half hour mark. Egypt were not threatening too often by the halftime whistle but did well to neutralize the Moroccan attack and keep the deficit at one goal.

Aston Villa winger Trezeguet came in at the half for Egypt, and before ten minutes were played the Pharaohs equalized from a set piece. A corner kick from Omar Marmoush found center back Mohamed Abdemonem and the Future FC player’s header was saved by Bounou right to a wide open and waiting Salah, who had the easiest of tap-ins to equalize.

The match remained even but Morocco struggled to create opportunities in the second half as the match became more and more heated. Ten minutes before the end of regulation, Morocco center back Nayaf Aguerd nearly stole the win with a header off a cross from out wide, but Abou Gabal came up with a fantastic save by reacting quickly to deflect the ball onto the crossbar.

It seemed like the match was destined for penalty kicks as extra time proceeded, but the first half provided the winning moment. In the 100th minute, Egypt substitute Ahmed Sayed “Zizo” played Salah down the right flank and Salah had plenty of space to run at the Moroccan defense. The Egyptian superstar took advantage of a 1-on-1 with Aguerd to create space and put an excellent cross to the far post, where Trezeguet crashed in for an easy finish. A desperate Morocco side could not break down the stout Egyptian defense and the Pharaohs did well to play out the victory.

Video of all three goals are below.

7′- Hakimi draws foul and Boufal puts Morocco ahead with flawless spot kick

53′- Salah equalizes for Egypt following a corner kick

100′- Salah leaves Trezeguet with easy finish to put Egypt up in extra time

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