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Morocco end build-up to 2018 World Cup undefeated with win over Estonia

Photo: Maroc

beat 3-1 in their final friendly before the in Russia with goals from Younès Belhanda, Hakim Ziyech, and Youssef En-Nesyri.

The Atlas Lions beat Estonia in their fifth and final friendly in preparation for the World Cup. In their first four games, Morocco defeated Serbia, Uzbekistan, and Slovakia and drew with Ukraine. Throughout their friendlies, Morocco scored nine goals and conceded three.

READ: Morocco announce final 23-man squad for World Cup

After dominating the opening minutes of the match, Younès Belhanda opened the scoring after Ayoub Al-Kaabi touched the ball in the box towards the Galatasaray midfielder. The goal was his fourth for the national team and his first since June 15, 2013 when he scored against Gambia in the 2014 World Cup qualifications.

Estonia were rarely able to produce an attack and saw themselves go 2-0 down after a penalty was awarded to Morocco after a foul occurred inside the box. Ajax attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech converted to score his seventh goal for the Atlas Lions. Shortly after, Estonia had a chance but Juventus center-back Medhi Benatia cleared the ball.

The Atlas Lions had a great chance to go up by three in the 43rd minute, but Amine Harit’s shot hit the post. By the end of the first half, Morocco had 78% possession of the ball and four shots on target compared to Estonia’s 22% possession and zero shots on target.

The second half began much like the first half, with Morocco continuing to dominate the match. The Atlas Lions created chance after chance and were awarded with a third goal in the 72nd minute. Surprise inclusion in the final 23-man squad, Youssef En-Nesyri scored his second goal for the national team from Younès Belhanda’s cross.

Four minutes later, Ats Purje scored Estonia’s only goal from Sergei Zenjov’s assist. Morocco continued to dominate yet were not as clinical as in the first half. By the end of the match, they had 15 total shots compared to Estonia’s eight and nine shots on target compared to Estonia’s four.

Morocco open their World Cup journey against Iran on June 15 before facing Portugal on June 20 and Spain on June 25.

In addition to being a football/soccer and basketball enthusiast, I am currently pursuing a combined BS/MD degree at VCU. I also currently work as a Pharmacy Technician in my spare time.

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