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Senegal beats Morocco as both sides qualify for semis
12-02-2011
           
 
Senegal has made it through to the U-23 African Championship semi-finals after a hard fought 1-0 win over hosts Morocco who also qualified to the semis despite the loss. Both teams finished on 6 points but Senegal tops the group and will stay in Tangiers for the semi final while Morocco now travels to Marrakech for their next game. Nigeria beat Algeria 4-1 in Marrakech in the other match but that victory fell short of the mark leaving both sides out and Senegal and Morocco through.
 The match in Tangiers took time to settle after a period of stray passes. Home side Morocco had the first meaningful chance and should have taken the lead from it. Said Idazza sent in a diagonal ball into the Senegalese penalty area and Tighadouini Adnane time his run to perfect but his attempt at side footing into the net flew past the post. The game went up a notch after that missed chance with Morocco producing some telling crosses from the left flank where Abdelaziz Berrada Idazza and Adnane were combining. The final ball remained disappointing though and that was so until the 31st minute.
 Senegal ‘s playmaker Seck Khaliloulah was soon winning the midfield battle with the assistance of Abdoulaye Ba and Kara  Mbodji and providing service to the hard running forwards Oumar Wade and Abdoulaye Sane. Senegal almost scored when a poor clearance from a cross fell at Wade’s feet meters away from goal but his shot taken in a hurry went wide but match ‘s tempo had increased . In the 31st minute lanky Wade picked up the ball just outside the center circle in Moroccan half and jinxed past two defenders and carried on his run and he beat Driss Fettouhi before firing a hard and low shot that flew past diving Yassine Kharroubi into the bottom right-hand corner for the opener. The goal silenced the stadium and Morocco looked startled as Senegal piled on the pressure with Wade, captain Stephane Badji and Sane a constant threat up front. Morocco resorted to long shots and Tighadouini let go of one that was just tipped over by Ousmane Mane.
Morocco came back from the break determined to equalize but Senegal were a match for them and a good football game ensued. As both teams gave it all with commitment and passionate play flowing the card count increased too. Action swung from one end to the other and the goalkeepers were kept on their toes. Morocco nearly got their goal when a shot from Tighadouini was spilt by Mane and it rolled towards goal with the crowd urging it in but it spun inches off the upright for a corner. At the other end Senegal’s Mbodji headed wide after a good leap with the goalkeeper beaten. The encounter kept the fans on the edge of their seats and every chance told its story with cries of anguish whenever Senegal went close and moans at the Moroccan near-misses. Senegal coach Abdoulaye Sarr rung chances to safe guard his lead and the pulsating match ended at 1-0 as both teams aware of the news from Marrakech celebrated qualification.
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