January 19, (THEWILL) – Morocco were spared a heartbreak, thanks to Achraf Hakimi’s late stunner, which was enough to see them through a 2-2 draw and advance them to the next round of the TotalEnergies 2021 Africa Cup of Nations as Group C winners, followed by Gabon in second place.
Coach Vahid Halilhodzic took advantage of the opportunity to rest several key players, but it backfired in the first half, with Gabon more than deserving of their 21st-minute lead.
Nayef Aguerd stumbled at a vital moment in the lead-up to the opener and it allowed Jim Allevinah convert the goal past Munir Mohamedi. In fact, Gabon may have gone into the interval with a bigger lead if it had not been for the Moroccan goalie.
With an hour gone, the Atlas Lions felt they had levelled when a long ball from the back was misjudged by Gabon goalkeeper Jean Noel Amonome, but Youssef En-Nesyri was adjudged to have been offside.
Morocco got a bit of luck 16 minutes from time when Sofiane Boufal won a penalty despite Andre Biyogo Poko appearing to win the ball, and the Angers forward converted from 12 yards.
Gabon, missing Mario Lemina and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, believed they had won a group-leading victory when Aguerd put the ball into his own net after 81 minutes, but Morocco was saved three minutes later by Hakimi’s free-kick.