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Morocco 1-1 Cape Verde

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El-Arabi: Rescues Lions a point

El-Arabi: Rescues Lions a point

A late goal from Youssef El-Arabi rescued Morocco a 1-1 draw against a determined Cape Verde side at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday evening.

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Luis Platini had opened the scoring with an excellent run and chip, but after some lacklustre Moroccan attack the North African giants eventually found a way through on 79 minutes as El-Arabi slammed home from inside the area.

The Blue Sharks almost snuck the opening goal with just over 60 seconds gone, but Nadir Lamyaghri did really well to just tip a looping header over the crossbar following an early free-kick.

Morocco get their first shot on target after 10 minutes, and it wasn't a bad effort from Oussama Assaidi, who let loose from some 30 yards out, with the ball dipping just at the last moment to force the goalkeeper to parry away.

Cape Verde threatened again through another free-kick which was drilled straight at Julio Tavares, who did well to control before using his strength to work a shooting opportunity, but he scuffed his effort into the ground and the keeper was able to snatch up the loose ball.

The Sharks maintained their forward moment and created their best chance after 22 minutes, Ryan Mendes lining up a free-kick before unleashing a stinging low drive, but the keeper did really well to get down and parry the ball to safety after it had come through a crowd of bodies.

Shortly before the break the minnows took the shock lead, a mistake from the Morocco defence allowing Mendes to win possession before threading an inch-perfect ball through for Platini, who smartly clipped the ball over the on-rushing keeper to nestle his effort in the back of the net.

The second half proved a more scrappy affair, with numerous yellow cards and innocuous challenges disrupting the flow of the game, while Younes Belhanda's booking meant the forward would be ineligible for Morocco's final group clash against South Africa on Sunday.

A rare moment of threat from the Moroccans saw Karim El Ahmadi break down the wing before putting the ball into the area, but Mounir El Hamdaoui's first-time hit was way off target and flew miles over the crossbar.

But with just over 10 minutes remaining the Lions of the Atlas finally found a way through, Barrada breaking down the right wing before cutting the ball back to the completely unmarked El-Arabi, who smartly fired his first-time shot into the back of the net.

Cape Verde almost found an instant reply from as Heldon as the substitute broke in behind the back-four, but Mehdi Benatia just did enough to put the forward off, and his scuffed shot was gratefully saved by the goalkeeper.

El-Arabi then came within inches of a second, and what would have been a match-winner, after getting on the end of a corner only to head his effort wide of the up-right.

Posted: 23/01/13 19:58

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