Hosts Morocco have advanced into the final match of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) following a 3-1 defeat of Libya after extra time.
The competition’s first semi-final match, played in Casablanca, saw the hosts once again inspired by Ayoub El Kaabi, who scored two goals to take his tournament tally to eight overall.
Morocco created their first opening as early as the fifth minute, as Achraf Bencharki put Ismail Haddad in on goal.
While the winger chipped the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper Muhammad Nashnoush, Libyan defender Motasem Sabbou got back to clear from almost under his own crossbar.
And that same crossbar was rattled just past the midway point of the first half.
Midfielder Salaheddine Saidi’s header to a Bencharki free kick rebounded off the woodwork.
The Atlas Lions also saw right-back Mohamed Nahiri send a shot on target direct from a free kick.
Nashnoush was able to punch the ball clear to ensure his side went to the break level at 0-0.
Libya offered little in attack for the first hour of the match, but on 63 minutes they nearly claimed the lead.
This was after striker Saleh Al Taher got on the end of a corner kick and powered a header on target.
But Moroccan left-back Abdeljalil Jbira cleared off his own goal line.
Yet in the 73rd minute it was Morocco who finally broke the deadlock.
Substitute Zakaria Hadraf did some great work down the left flank before chipping in a cross from the by-line which was headed home by Ayoub El Kaabi.
If the hosts thought their prolific striker’s goal was going to be enough, they were sorely mistaken.
In the 86th minute, goalkeeper Anas Zniti was caught in possession, allowing Abdulrahman Khalleefa to score an equaliser and send the game into extra time.
But El Kaabi was not finished, and in the seventh minute of the extra half hour he pounced again to complete his brace.
A corner kick was poorly dealt with by Libya’s defence and El Kaabi was gifted a simple tap-in at the far post to make it 2-1.
Morocco finally killed off Libya’s challenge in the 117th minute when Walid El Karti won a soft penalty kick.
He converted it himself to make the score 3-1 and seal a place in the final.