Ayoub El Kaabi nets hat-trick as Morocco down Guinea

Morocco celebrate, CHAN 2018 Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Ayoub El Kaabi netted an excellent hat-trick as African Nations Championship hosts Morocco beat Guinea 3-1 to make it two wins out of two.

The West Africans, who are starting at an early elimination after suffering consecutive defeats, matched the Atlas Lions blow for blow during the first half, before a critical error from Aboubaca Camara allowed Morocco to take a second-half lead.

The hosts overcame the loss of influential playmaker Abdelilah Hafidi to injury in the 15th minute to draw first blood when El Kaabi beat the Guinean offside trap to head substitute Walid El Karti's delicious cross in off the underside of the bar.

Guinea surrounded the linesman, who had originally raised his flag for an offside, in the aftermath of the goal, but replays indicated that El Kaabi was onside.

Undeterred by the setback, the Syli Nationale responded immediately through Saidouba Bissiri Camara. His delicious chipped finish evaded Anas Zniti after breaking through, as the hosts conceded their first goal of the tournament.

Morocco suffered another setback early in the second half when midfielder Salheddine Saidi was replaced, but their fortunes were reversed just after the hour mark through Camara's moment of madness.

The defender, under little pressure, attempted to play a cross field ball to his fellow centre-back Abdoulaye Naby Camara, but perhaps losing his balance, his pass fell to the feet of the advancing El Kaabi.

The RS Berkane forward - arguably the tournament's outstanding player so far - made no mistake with a fine left-footed finish in the 64th minute.

As they had done in their opener against Mauritania, when a quick double took the tie away from the visitors, Morocco sought blood again here, and were 3-1 up within four minutes.

Attacking down Guinea's right, Ismail El Haddad sent in a menacing cross and El Kaabi, arriving at the backpost, was presented with his easiest finish of the tournament so far.

Sudan face Mauritania in Group A's second clash of the day on Wednesday evening, with anything other than a Mauritania win condemning Guinea to an early exit.