The Desert Foxes of Algeria triumphed over Morocco in an enthralling quarter-final clash at the FIFA Arab Cup holding in Qatar.
This match was billed as the star game of the tournament – and yes did both teams deliver!
After an end-to-end first half, Algeria found the net on 62 minutes through a VAR-assisted penalty converted by Yacine Brahimi.
The Moroccan Atlas Lions hit back immediately as Mohammed Nahiri nodded a free-kick past keeper Rais Mbohli.
The fans at Al Thumama stadium in Doha waited till the 102nd minute of Extra Time to see one of the most brilliant goals of this tournament – and It must be said, they have been many.
Algerian keeper Mbholi sent in a long kick that evaded everybody; but Belaili Mohammed was alert to control and shoot the ball over the Moroccan keeper Zniti Anas who had come off his line.
If the fans felt that was the killer blow, they were totally wrong.
Morocco still had another dead ball trick in their locker – and Benoun Badr delivered another sweet header via a set piece.
The game went into penalties and it took a save from Mbhouli and Mohammed Tougai to score the winning goal to send the Desert Foxes to the semi-finals to face hosts Qatar.
Egypt recovered from a slow start and a goal-down to crush Jordan 3-1 in the last game of the day.
Indeed , the Pharaohs suffered some form of ‘power outage’ as they were bossed and dominated by their Jordanian opponents, who took the lead via a curler from Yaznan Alnaimat in the 12th minute.
Having faced just two shots on target throughout the entire group stage, Egyptian goalie Mohammed El Shenawy needed to deal with five from Jordan in the opening 45 alone – all of which might easily have ended up in the net.
The 7-times AFCON champions rallied to get a goal in first-half added time via a Marwan Hamdy header.
The game went into extra time and it was no surprise the Jordanians gassed out.
The Egyptians smelt blood and scored two goals via Ahmed Refaat (100 minutes) and later Marwan Daoud (119 minutes).
Egypt’s coach Carlos Queroiz was relieved to advance – but gave credit to the Jordanians for a strong showing.
“It was a beautiful quarter-final.
Egyptians will be happier, of course, but I think Jordan fans can be very proud too because their team played some wonderful football,” he said.
“They were better than us at the start.
We were a bit nervous and they were on fire.
But then there was a fantastic comeback from my players.
It was beautiful to see.
Egypt now have a semi-final date with Tunisia on Wednesday.
FIFA Arab Cup: Algeria wins ‘Maghreb battle’ against Morocco