Tunisia capitalised on a wasteful Moroccan performance to beat their North African rivals 2-1 in Group C, BBC informs.
Khaled Korbi opened the scoring for the Carthage Eagles, floating a free-kick straight into the Moroccan goal. Substitute Youssef Msakni doubled Tunisia’s lead with a wonderful solo effort, before Moroccan skipper Houcine Kharjah pulled one back.
Morocco wasted several chances to score but Tunisia deserved their opening win, after a gutsy performance. The Atlas Lions started well and created opportunities from the outset, with Mbark Boussoufa busy trying to link up with Arsenal’s Marouane Chamakh up front, who found space but shot straight at Aymen Mathlouthi in the Tunisian goal.
That miss would set the tone of much of the game, with Mathlouthi pulling off a string of saves from the Moroccan attackers.
Tunisia weathered the opening exchanges well before capitalising and opening the scoring through Korbi’s free-kick on 34 minutes. Korbi floated in a dangerous ball from well outside the area which nestled in Morocco’s net, after Saber Khelifa did enough to distract Nadir Lamyaghri in the Moroccan goal.
Morocco had two quick opportunities to equalise, with Younes Belhanda shooting just wide after a good run into the area, and then Chamakh almost latched onto a looping ball, but again Mathlouthi did enough to put him off and clear his lines.
Moroccan coach Eric Gerets’ responded by introducing Adel Taraabt for Oussama Assaidi at the break, and the QPR striker was involved in the action straight away, drawing yet another save from Mathlouthi.
But Tunisia held out well and deserved to edge their neighbours, in a fascinating encounter in Libreville.
Hosts Gabon start with win
African Cup of Nations co-hosts Gabon got off to a flier with a 2-0 Group C victory over Niger in Libreville. Goals from star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Stephane N’Guema put the hosts 2-0 up at half-time and they should have scored more against a spirited but limited Niger side, who were enthusiastic enough on their Nations Cup debut but made repeated errors in defence and offered little going forward.