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Kahraba strikes late as Egypt beat Morocco, reach AFCON semis

Ghana Egypt Morocco

Photo: Aminah Babirye

A late goal from Mahmoud Kahraba saw edge out and advance to face Burkina Faso in the semi-final of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

Egypt gave a solid defensive performance in the early stages of the game as Hector Cuper’s men were looking to create chances on the counter-attack. As the Moroccan team failed to threaten the Pharaohs or create clear-cut chances, Egypt started to gain the upper hand in the midfield.

The Pharaohs’ first chance came around the 15-minute mark, after Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross found Trezeguet, but the latter’s low volley was saved by the Morocco keeper.

Around half an hour into the game, Morocco were close to break the deadlock after Manuel Da Costa whipped in a brilliant cross, but Romain Saiss couldn’t connect his head onto it.

Three minutes to halftime, Egypt lost their forward Marwan Mohsen to injury as he was replaced by SC Braga striker Ahmed Hassan Koka.

The Pharaohs wasted a chance to take the lead four minutes after the break as El-Said found AS Roma winger Mohamed Salah but the latter’s volley was blocked by the keeper.

Veteran goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary produced a superb save to keep the game goalless as he denied Morocco in the 54th minute. The Atlas Lions continued to put Egypt under pressure missing several chances, either by missing the target or finding Hadary in the way.

At the one-hour mark, Egypt manager Hector Cuper brought on Mahmoud Kahraba in a tactical substitution to replace Karim Hafez, with Ahmed Fathi moving to the left flack, El-Said dropping as central midfielder and Kahraba playing as a shadow striker for Koka.

Morocco continued to force Egypt back with most of the chances going their way. They missed another opportunity to take the lead as Aziz Bouhaddouz’s header was deflected off Ahmed Hegazy and went wide in the 68th minute.

With 13 minutes to time, Salah has a chance to make it 1-0 for Egypt as El-Said chipped a free-kick over the wall into Salah’s pass but the latter’s effort was saved by the keeper.

As the game seemed to be heading for extra time, Kahraba bundled the ball home from a close range after a corner by El-Said to give Egypt the lead with three minutes to time.

The Atlas Lions’ last chance of the night hit the side of the net as the Pharaohs claimed a 1-0 victory and advanced to the next round, where they’ll face Burkina Faso who reached the semi-final after beating Tunisia 2-0.

Record seven-time winners Egypt reached the semi-finals without conceding a single goal in their four games in Gabon and have also managed to extend their unbeaten run in the AFCON to 22 games.

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