Ajax star man Hakim Ziyech’s 90th-minute penalty miss resigned Morocco to defeat as 10 man Benin went on to win 4-1 on penalties and reach the quarter-finals of the Total African Cup of Nations for the first time.
Despite winning all their group stage matches, Morocco was far from convincing against a less fancied Benin side who came into the game without a win in the AFCON since their debut.
After missing a host of opportunities in the first half, the Moroccans started the second in the same vein. Just a minute before the opener, Belhanda was set up brilliantly by Madrid youngster Achraf Hakimi but was only able to send the ball wide.
Against the run of play, Benin took full advantage of a corner as Moise Adilehou slammed in a shock opener on the volley. Looking to respond to Benin’s goal Hakim ZIyech hit a shot from the left-hand side which Benin’s goalkeeper palmed, only for Belhanda to sky his effort after the ball was kept in play.
A quality ball from Nordin Amrabat found the head of Sofiane Boufal who headed into the ground and over.
Morocco finally got back into the game when Jordan Adeoti was caught in possession.
En-Nesyri made no mistake when Boussoufa played him in on goal.
It seemed like they would go through when Benin skipper Stephane Sessegnon who was adjudged man of the match brought Achraf Hakimi down in the box. Ziyech stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way but unluckily his effort hit the post.
Benin bravely played 23 minutes of extra time when down to ten men after Khaled Adenon committed a second bookable offence and saw red for apparently pushing the referee.
A fracas ensued before he reluctantly left the pitch reluctantly after arguments with the Moroccan bench and some officials.
The match became fiery and saw some players booked getting to the end of extra time. Sofiane Boufal who had been lively after coming on as a second half substitute blazed over the bar whiles Youssef En-Nesyri’s penalty was saved.
Mama Seibou converted the decisive penalty which took Benin through at the expense of Herve Renard’s men.
Story by: Kwamena Afful Cleland | Univers Sports|univernewsroom.com