Morocco rout rivals Algeria to move three points clear

Hatem Maher , Sunday 5 Jun 2011

Morocco thrash North African rivals Algeria 4-0 in Marrakech in Saturday’s African Cup of Nations qualifier

Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh celebrates the victory

Morocco moved three points clear at the top of Group D after routing North African rivals Algeria 4-0 at home in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers on Saturday.

Defender Mehdi Benatia gave the hosts a 26th-minute lead when he nodded in at the far post after making the most of a teammate flick and some slack Algerian defending.

Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh doubled their advantage six minutes before the break after he ran onto a superb defence-splitting pass before calmly slotting past the advancing keeper.

In the 61st minute, attacking midfielder Youssouf Hadji killed off the visitors’ hopes of staging a comeback when he added the third with a precise shot from inside the area following more woeful defending from Algeria.

Striker Oussama Assaidi completed the rout eight minutes later following a brilliant individual effort. He tricked a defender twice and placed his close-range shot through the legs of Algeria keeper Rais M'Bolhi.

Morocco’s impressive win made up for their 1-0 loss to Algeria in Annaba in March and put them in pole position to qualify for next year’s Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

The Atlas Lions lie on top of the group on seven points, three ahead of Algeria, Central Africa and Tanzania.

Central Africa and Tanzania will have a chance to move level on points with Morocco when they meet on Sunday.

The group winners will automatically qualify for the biennial tournament while the runner-up will have to wait to find out whether they would finish as one of the best two second-placed teams in the 11 qualifying groups.

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