Hakimi takes Morocco into the quarter-finals after a scare from Malawi

Morocco advanced to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with a 2-1 win over Malawi on Tuesday, thanks to a spectacular free-kick by Achraf Hakimi.

With a remarkable goal from 40 meters at Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium, Gabadinho Mhango gave outsiders Malawi a shock early lead in their first ever knockout encounter at the tournament.

Morocco drew level in first-half stoppage time with to Youssef En-Nesyri’s goal but Hakimi hammered in the winner on 70 minutes to set up a last-eight encounter with Egypt or Ivory Coast.

The quarter-final was scheduled to take place at Yaounde’s Olembe Stadium, but it will be rescheduled following a terrible crush outside the stadium on Monday, which killed eight people and injured 38 more.

A minute’s silence was observed before kick-off, as it had been in the last encounter between Senegal and Cape Verde at Bafoussam, and both sides’ players wore black armbands.

Morocco, looking for their second Cup of Nations championship and first since 1976, fell behind after Mhango got Yassine Bounou off his line with a spectacular long-range goal after only seven minutes.

As Imran Louza stung the palms of Charles Thomu, who then did well to keep away Hakimi’s thunderous free-kick and Louza’s follow-up, the Atlas Lions replied by producing a number of chances.

After a fantastic long pass from Micium Mhone, Mhango dragged wide for Malawi, but the Flames were put under prolonged pressure when Morocco skipper Romain Saiss volleyed against the crossbar.

Thomu turned Hakimi’s dipping shot into the post and then denied Sofiane Boufal with his legs after En-Nesyri poked him weakly from close range.

On the stroke of half-time, Morocco were rewarded for their perseverance when En-Nesyri rose to power Selim Amallah’s deep cross beyond Thomu.

When Hakimi’s cross struck Malawi defender Dennis Chembezi’s arm in the second half, he screamed for a penalty, but the Paris Saint-Germain star took matters into his own hands to secure victory.

Hakimi struck another beautiful free-kick 20 minutes from time to terminate Malawi’s remarkable run after his late equaliser against Gabon had won top spot in the group stage.


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