Youssef En-Nesyri of Morocco celebrates goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals football match between Morocco and Ivory Coast at the Al Salam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt on 28 June 2019 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Friday Jun 28, 2019. 21:10
Morocco defeated Ivory Coast 1-0 in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group D match at the Al Salam Stadium in Egypt on Friday evening.
As a result, the Atlas Lions progressed to the round of 16, while the Elephants will have to defeat Namibia in their last group game in order to qualify.
The Elephants threatened first through Jonathan Kodjia, whose header was cleared off the goal-line by Romain Saiss a minute into the game.
The Atlas Lions then grew into the game with Nordin Amrabat looking lively for the 1976 AFCON champions.
The deadlock was broken in the 23rd minute after some great work by Amrabat, whose beautiful through pass was superbly finished off by Youssef En-Nesyri to make it 1-0.
Ivory Coast almost responded with a goal after the Morocco defence was exposed two minutes later, but Nicolas Pepe's long-range shot hit the side-netting.
The two teams continued to attack each other after half-hour and En-Nesyri came close to grabbing his brace when his effort was saved by Sylvain Gbohouo in Ivory Coast goal-posts.
Gbobouo's counterpart, Yassine Bounou was seriously tested just before the half-time break and he pulled off a great save to deny Ivorian veteran midfielder Serey Die.
The score was 1-0 to Morocco at the interval thanks to En-Nesyri's well-taken goal.
The Elephants were frustrated by the Atlas Lions after the restart with experienced defender Medhi Benatia looking solid at the heart of the Morocco defence.
Ibrahim Kamara, the Ivory Coast head coach, decided to introduce strikers Maxwel Cornet and Wilfried Bony as they the two-time AFCON champions looked to restore parity.
However, Kamara's charges struggled to create chances for their strikers and Morocco were able to push forward in search of another goal.
Younes Belhanda found some space in the Ivory Coast box in the 83rd minute and he unleashed a shot which was pushed over the crossbar by an alert Gbohouo.
The last chance of the game fell for Ajax Amsterdam defender Noussair Mazaroui with the Elephants defence exposed in stoppage time.
However, the full-back's effort hit the crossbar and ultimately, Morocco emerged 1-0 winners after containing Ivory Coast in the closing stages of the match.
Morocco (1) 1 (En-Nesyri 23')
Ivory Coast (0) 0
Morocco: Bounou, Benatia, Hakimi, El Ahmadi, Boussoufa (Da Costa 90'+3), Dirar, Belhanda, Saiss, Ziyech (Boufal 75'), Amrabat (Mazraoui 82'), En-Nesyri.
Ivory Coast: Gbohouo, Aurier (Bakayoko 70'), Kanon, Traoré, Coulibaly, Serey Dié, Kessié, Seri (Bony 63'), Gradel (Cornet 55'), Pepe, Kodjia.