Morocco top World Cup qualifying group with 3-0 win over Gabon

Ahram Online , Saturday 7 Oct 2017

Morocco's Boutaib khalid celebrates a goal during their FIFA world Cup 2018 Group C football match between Morocco and Gabon on October 7, 2017, at Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca (AFP)

Morocco moved top of their World Cup qualifying group with one match to spare after a hat-trick from Khalid Boutaib gave them a 3-0 home victory over Gabon on Saturday.

The 30-year-old, who plays for Turkish Super Lig side Yeni Malatyaspor, opened the scoring with a free header in the 38th minute.

He doubled the lead 11 minutes after the restart when his low shot from inside the area went under the keeper and into the net as Morocco took full control, with Gabon offering little resistance.

Boutaib completed his hat-trick after pouncing on a dreadful defensive mistake in the 72nd minute to give Morocco a precious win.

The Atlas Lions, who have not reached the World Cup since 1998, lead Group C with nine points.

They will reach the World Cup if they avoid defeat against second-placed Ivory Coast, who have eight points, away from home next month.

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