Africa-Press – Namibia. Match report and highlights as Morocco and Gabon both qualify for the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations following 2-2 draw; PSG’s Achraf Hakimi scored a stunning late free-kick to rescue a point for Morocco and send them through as group winners; Gabon qualify as group runners-up
Morocco twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Gabon as both teams qualified from Group C for the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations.Paris Saint-Germain defender Achraf Hakimi hit a stunning free-kick six minutes from the end to save Morocco from an upset by a Gabon side which had eight players ruled out due to COVID-19 infections, including captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Jim Allevinah’s goal put Gabon ahead at half-time but former Southampton forward Sofiane Boufal equalised with a 75th-minute penalty, only for Aaron Boupendza to put Gabon back in front in the last 10 minutes.
The draw ensured both teams qualified for the last 16 as Morocco finished top with seven points, two ahead of second-placed Gabon. Morocco must wait to find out who they face next, while Gabon will take on Burkina Faso in Sunday’s opening match of the knockout stages.
Gabon had some good fortune for their 22nd-minute opener as a long ball kicked up field by goalkeeper Jean-Noel Amonome was missed by Morocco centre-back Sofian Chakla, who slipped as he attempted to clear and Allevinah came running through to hit it in first time with his left foot.
For all their possession, Morocco struggled to create chances and Gabon might have had two more goals in the first half, showing no signs of missing Aubameyang, who has returned to London for further medical tests after his bout of COVID-19.
First Boupendza turned Chakla and got goalside only to put his effort narrowly wide before Lloyd Palun headed firmly towards the target only for a flying save from Morocco goalkeeper Munir to deny him.
Morocco eventually equalised after Andre Biyogo Poko brought down Boufal, although it looked a marginal decision confirmed by VAR. Boufal got up to slam home the penalty but six minutes later Boupendza was at the end of a square pass, squeezing the ball home from a tight angle to restore Gabons lead.
Hakimi then hammered in a late, long-range free kick to make it 2-2 and ensure Morocco topped the group. “It was satisfying to see the character of the players although Gabon were very difficult, especially on the counter attack,” said Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic.