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Home / Sports / Football / Canada vs Morocco: Atlas Lions roar to summit

Canada vs Morocco: Atlas Lions roar to summit

Nigeria were the last African side to have topped a World Cup group, at France 1998
Youssef En-Nesyri scores Morocco’s second goal in their 2-1 win over Canada at Al Thumama Stadium on Thursday.
Youssef En-Nesyri scores Morocco’s second goal in their 2-1 win over Canada at Al Thumama Stadium on Thursday.
Getty Images

Reuters   |   Doha   |   Published 02.12.22, 04:31 AM

Morocco became the first African team to top a World Cup group for 24 years finishing higher than the previous edition’s runners-up Croatia and the second-ranked team Belgium.

Two first-half goals set the Atlas Lions on their way but they had to hold on for a 2-1 win over Canada at the Al Thumama Stadium on Thursday after conceding an own goal that kept them nervous through the second half.

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Morocco finished on seven points, two more than runners-up Croatia, to advance from the group stages for a second time, 36 years after they became the first African country to do so at the Mexico World Cup in 1986. Canada, who are exiting their first World Cup since 1986 without a win, automatically qualify for the 2026 tournament as cohosts along with the United States and Mexico.

Nigeria were the last African side to have topped a World Cup group, at France 1998.

Morocco, who needed a win or a draw in their final Group F match to reach the knockout rounds, took advantage of a weak clearance by goalkeeper Milan Borjan that landed on the foot of Hakim Ziyech.

Cheered on by a boisterous crowd of Moroccan fans, midfielder Ziyech effortlessly lobbed the ball over the stranded goalkeeper to open scoring in the fourth minute.

Borjan had been placed in an unenviable position by central defender Steven Vitoria, whose weak back pass forced the goalkeeper to race Moroccan forward Youssef En-Nesyri to the ball.

En-Nesyri remained dangerous throughout the first half, doubling  Morocco’s lead in the 23rd minute when he ran onto a long ball from Achraf Hakimi and beat Borjan at the near post.

En-Nesyri also thumped a volley into the Canadian net during stoppage time in the first half but that goal was ruled offside.

Moroccan defender Nayef Aguerd put Canada on the scoreboard with an own goal, the first of this World Cup, by accidentally flicking a cross by Sam Adekugbe past his own goalkeeper Yassine Bounou in the 40th minute.



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