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U-23 AFCON: Morocco dominate Ghana to clinch semifinal spot

2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Morocco imposed their will on Ghana on Tuesday, dominating the Black Meteors in a dominant 5-1 victory at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat. Yanis Begraoui scored twice and provided an assist while captain Abde Ezzalzouli and Ismael Saibari each tallied a goal and an assist as the Atlas Lions clinched advancement to the semifinals in style. Ghana will now need to defeat Guinea on Friday to advance along with the hosts who conclude the group stage against eliminated Republic of Congo.

Memories of a sluggish start in Morocco’s opener against Guinea were forgotten when a quickly taken 7th minute corner kick led to Ezzalzouli assisting Amir Richardson for a bouncing effort that looped over Ghana goalkeeper Ibrahim Danlad. Saibari doubled the lead for the hosts six minutes later after playing a slick combination with Begraoui before chipping over the onrushing Ibrahim.

By the half hour mark it was 3-0 to the Atlas Lions after intricate combination play between Saibari and Begraoui sliced open the Ghanaian defense, leaving Begraoui with an easy finish to complete a stylish goal. Ghana found their stride towards the end of the first half and pulled one back through Salim Adams in the 43rd minute.

Soon after it appeared a well taken long range strike from Abdul Fatawu had cut the deficit to one goal but the Video Assistant Referee waived the goal off because the ball went out of bounds during the buildup. Any momentum Ghana created before halftime was soon gone when Ezzalzouli followed up to finish after Black Meteors defender Terry Yegbe failed to adequately clear Saibari’s initial shot.

Morocco completed the scoring in the 53rd minute courtesy of Begraoui who finished past Ibrahim from a pass by Ezzalzouli following a rapid counter attack from a Ghanaian corner kick. It could have been worse for the Black Meteors but a late goal for Morocco was ruled offside by VAR.

Highlights are below.

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