May 22, 2022

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Afcon 2021: Sublime Achraf Hakimi’s Free-kick sends Morocco into quarter-finals

2 min read

Achraf Hakimi’s free-kick sent Morocco into the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals as they came from behind to beat Malawi 2-1.

Gabadinho Mhango had put the underdogs in front early on with an unbelievable strike from 40-yards, but Morocco responded well and they got the equaliser they deserved just before the break through Youssef En-Nesyri.

With 20 minutes remaining, Hakimi completed the comeback in style with his second free-kick goal of the tournament, booking Morocco’s place in the last eight where they will face either Ivory Coast or Egypt.

This was Malawi’s first ever appearance in the AFCON knockout stages, but their nerves would have been settled by moment of pure brilliance from Mhango after seven minutes.

He picked up the ball more than 40 yards out, looked up and saw Yassine Bounou off his line, and then let fly with an effort that sailed over the goalkeeper’s head and into the top corner as Malawi took the lead in outrageous fashion.

Imran Louza had an effort comfortably saved for Morocco, before Malawi broke quickly and Mhanga dragged a shot wide when he really should have made it 2-0 after 25 minutes.

It was one-way traffic for the rest of the half, as Morocco piled forward in search of an equaliser.

Romain Saiss saw his effort cannon off the bar from a few yards out after a brilliant cross, before Thomu made a stunning save to tip Achraf Hakimi’s shot onto the post. Sofiane Boufal then joined party and missed a big chance himself, blazing over when he only had the goalkeeper to beat.

But the goal eventually came in first-half added-time. A deep ball into the box found En-Nesyri free, and his header was too powerful for Thomu to keep out as the sides went into the break level.

Boufal sent an effort well over the bar shortly into the second-half, but Malawi continued to offer a threat on the break as the match remained completely in the balance.

Denis Chembezi blocked a low cross from Hakimi with his trailing arm in the box, and went down holding his stomach in an apparent attempt to fool the officials, but much to his relief VAR decided not to award a penalty.

Hakimi scored a free-kick against Gabon in Morocco’s final group-stage match, and he once again stepped up to send a stunning effort from 25 yards flying into the top corner.

Malawi were unable to find a late equaliser as they ran out of steam, and Morocco sealed a place in the quarter-finals for just the third time since 1998.

8 thoughts on “Afcon 2021: Sublime Achraf Hakimi’s Free-kick sends Morocco into quarter-finals

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