Saturday Nov 11, 2017. 21:21
Welcome to as-it-happened coverage of the 2018 World Cup qualifier between Ivory Coast and Morocco from the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan.
All times CAT
90+4′ – Full time – Done and dusted! Morocco win 2-0 and top Group C to secure safe passage to Russia 2018! The Atlas Lions will return to the World Cup for the first time since 1998, while Ivory Coast miss out on a fourth successive showing at the global showpiece!
90+1′ – Substitution – Faycal Fajr replaces Belhanda in Morocco’s last change.
90′ – There will be three minutes of added time.
89′ – A few off-the-ball scraps sparking now, Ivory Coast’s frustration is getting the better of them.
87′ – Doumbia gets up to meet Aurier’s ball into the box, but his header is comfortably saved by the Morocco goalkeeper.
85′ – More great defence from Dirar against Zaha – the Moroccan has played superbly to keep the Elephants attacker quiet in this match.
82′ – Substitution – Sofyan Amrabat replaces the excellent Ziyach in Morocco’s second change.
81′ – Little energy or urgency from the Elephants, they don’t seem to believe a comeback is possible.
79′ – Just over 10 minutes left, Morocco can just about taste the World Cup…
76′ – Substitution – Gervinho makes way for Salomon Kalou in the home side’s last change.
75′ – Substitution – Morocco’s first change sees Boutaib replaced by youngster Achraf Bencharki.
71′ – El Kajoui makes an easy catch from a right-wing cross. Ivory Coast really haven’t worked the Morocco goalkeeper through this match.
69′ – Nope, Kessie can’t make anything of a simple ball to the near post and it’s a goal kick to Morocco.
68′ – Great perseverance from Zaha to win a corner kick, can they make something of it?
66′ – Great work from Gradel to chase down Amrabat in a Morocco counter attack and win a free kick. The Elephants have been poor tonight, but Gradel at least can hold his head high for his efforts.
64′ – Morocco on a speedy counter, but Amrabat and Boutaib cannot take advantage! Play comes back the other end and Aurier has a great chance… blazed over the bar!
62′ – Substitution – The Elephants’ second change sees Maxwell Cornet replace Fofana.
61′ – Past the hour mark, Ivory Coast must come up with three goals in the last 30 minutes to qualify for a fourth successive World Cup.
58′ – Boutaib flagged offside… the forward is working tirelessly up front for Morocco, feeding on scraps for the most part.
55′ – Good defence from Dirar to shepherd Gervinho out of play. The Atlas Lions are happy to sit deep, soak up whatever their opponents can throw at them and look to hit on the break.
53′ – Zaha livid after Amrabat wins a free kick off him in the Moroccans’ half of the field. It’s just not happening for the hosts.
50′ – Ivory Coast look really disjointed… putting together the most basic passing moves seems beyond them at the moment.
47′ – Gbohouo drops a cross, Boussoufa gets a shot away on goal, but Aurier does just enough to clear off his line! That would have been the killer blow to the Elephants!
46′ – Substitution – Back underway in the second half, Ivory Coast have made a change by sending on Ghislain Konan in place of Deli.
45+2′ – Half time – Morocco two goals up at the break and looking very much on course to qualify. Ivory Coast will need something pretty special to turn this one around…
45′ – There will be one minute of added time.
43′ – Great work from Benatia to turn away from Zaha in an awkward defensive situation. The North Africans are full of confidence.
40′ – Five minutes to the interval. Ivory Coast coach Marc Wilmots will need to come up with one heck of a half-time pep talk to inspire a comeback from his team.
37′ – Solid defence from Morocco: apart from that chance Gervinho had about 20 minutes ago they’ve been untroubled.
35′ – The atmosphere has gone flat inside the stadium, with the home crowd stunned by this showing from the Atlas Lions.
32′ – Morocco heading for a fifth World Cup appearance overall and a first since 1998!
30′ – GOAL! Ivory Coast 0-2 Morocco – The Atlas Lions go two goals up! Benatia gets ahead of Gbami to half-volley home at close range from a corner kick!
29′ – Aurier given a talking-to by the referee for a foul in an aerial challenge with Boutaib. Frustration already threatening to boil over for the home side.
26′ – This in now a mountain to climb for the Elephants, who must score at least two goals against a Morocco defence which has kept five clean sheets in the group!
25′ – GOAL! Ivory Coast 0-1 Morocco – Dirar gives Morocco the lead against the run of play! The midfielder plays an in-swinging cross from the right which is missed in the middle and beats Gbohouo at the far post!
23′ – Gradel shoots direct for goal from the free kick, but cannot lift his effort over the defensive wall.
22′ – Yellow card – Saiss booked for a clumsy challenge on the edge of the box on Zaha. Very close to being a penalty…
21′ – Gradel whips in a great cross from the left, but Morocco goalkeeper El Kajoui collects safely under pressure from Zaha and Doumbia.
19′ – Gradel tumbles in the box under a challenge between two Moroccans, but the referee waves away appeals for a spot kick.
17′ – Gervinho with a great chance as he latches onto a ball over the top, but his attempted finish is blazed over the crossbar!
15′ – Ziyech shoots direct from the free kick… the ball hits the wall, balloons up and out for a corner kick.
14′ – Morocco win a free kick just outside the Ivorian penalty area for a clumsy trip on Boussoufa.
11′ – Belhanda crosses from the set piece, but his delivery is too deep.
10′ – Yellow card – Kessie given a harsh caution for a foul on Morocco’s right flank. The visitors have a free kick in a good attacking position…
9′ – A couple of corners and sustained pressure from the Elephants, but it ends with Fofana firing a shot over the target!
6′ – Hakimi with half a chance as he arrives late in the box, but he slices his shot high and wide.
4′ – Ziyech tumbles near the box, but there’s no real hope of a penalty for the North Africans.
2′ – A scrappy start to the game with a couple of early fouls from Morocco inside the hosts’ half.
1′ – Kick-off – We are underway in Abidjan! Ivory Coast wear all-orange, while Morocco are in a change strip of white with red trim.
19h25 – The players come out of the tunnel to line-up for the national anthems.
19h15 – The other Group C match between Gabon and Mali ended in a goalless stalemate in Franceville earlier today. This clash in Abidjan will be refereed by Gambian official Bakaray Gassama.
19h00 – This is the decisive clash in Group C of Africa’s qualifiers, with one of these two teams set to join Nigeria, Egypt and Senegal (and in all likelihood Tunisia) as African representatives at the finals in Russia next year. The equation is very simple: Ivory Coast must win to qualify, while any other result will see Morocco book a spot at the World Cup.
Here are the starting XIs ahead of the match:
Ivory Coast: Sylvain Gbohouo, Serge Aurier, Simon Deli, Wilfried Kanon, Seko Fofana, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Franck Kessie, Wilfried Zaha, Max Gradel, Gervinho, Seydou Doumbia
Morocco: Mounir El Kajoui, Medhi Benatia, Hakim Ziyach, Romain Saiss, Mbark Boussoufa, Noureddine Amrabat, Karim El Ahmadi, Khalid Boutaib, Achraf Hakimi, Younes Belhanda, Nabil Dirar