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Hosts Morocco kick off CHAN campaign with Mauritania victory

Hosts Morocco kick off CHAN campaign with Mauritania victory
From ESPN - January 13, 2018

Ayoub El Kaarti scored twice while Ismail El Haddad and Achraf Bencharki also found the net as rampant Morocco broke Mauritania's bold resolve to begin their African Nations Championship campaign with a convincing 4-0 win on home soil.

Despite their overwhelming dominance, the hosts had been frustrated by Mauritania and a series of heroic stops by goalkeeper Souleymane Brahim before El Kaabi, reacting quickest to Ismail Haddad's delicious through ball, finished calmly to break the deadlock in the 66th minute.

Undoing much of his earlier good work, Souleymane was culpable for Morocco's second, appearing to get both hands to a weak effort from El Haddad, only for the ball to ripple into the roof of the net in the 72nd minute.

El Kaabi added Morocco's third - a scoreline that did not flatter the hosts - with a right-footed shot from close range in the 80th minute, as one of the tournament favourites flexed their offensive muscles in front of their own fans at the Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca.

Substitute Achraf Becharki, capitalising on a Mauritania defence that had long since given up, added a fourth in stoppage time when he duped Souleymane and finished from a tight angle.

Morocco's offensive superiority was clear from the off, as the hosts sought to stretch and torment their opponents.

Immediately, it was clear that a key element of their gameplan was to exploit the pace of El Kaabi - playing on the shoulder of the last defender, and Souleymane had to be alert to smother the ball in the seventh minute.

That was just one of several nervous moments for the visitors during the early stages, with Sidi Mohamed Bilal's last-gasp clearance denying the Atlas Lions an early opener that might have set the tone for an even greater thrashing.

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