Achraf Hakimi curled in a long-range free kick as Morocco came from behind to beat Malawi 2-1 in the last-16 of the Africa Cup of Nations and stay on course for their first African title in over 45 years.
Full-back Hakimi, who also scored a free-kick in Morocco’s final group-stage match against Gabon, whipped in a brilliant effort to complete the turn around after Youssef En-Nesyri had equalised on the stroke of half-time.
Malawi went ahead early after an unbelievable goal from Frank Mhango, who hit a speculative left-footed effort from some more than 40 yards out which caught out Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou and flew into the top corner.
It was a memorable moment, for a team playing in the AFCON knockout stages for the first time in their history.
The favourites have found it tough in the last 16 so far, with Morocco joining Senegal and Cameroon in edging through to the quarter-finals, while Guinea and Nigeria have already been knocked out.
GOAL! Hakimi puts Morocco in front with perfect free-kick
GOAL! El-Nesyri levels it up
GOAL! Mhango gives Malawi lead with stunner
Morocco team news
Malawi team news
22:29 , Matt Verri
Achraf Hakimi’s free-kick sent Morocco into the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals as they came from behind to beat Malawi 2-1.
Gabadinho Mhango had put the underdogs in front early on with an unbelievable strike from 40-yards, but Morocco responded well and they got the equaliser they deserved just before the break through Youssef En-Nesyri.
With 20 minutes remaining, Hakimi completed the comeback in style with his second free-kick goal of the tournament, booking Morocco’s place in the last eight where they will face either Ivory Coast or Egypt.
Kylian Mbappe a fan of his PSG teammate...
21:44 , Matt Verri
BEST RB IN THE WORLD.
GOOD NIGHT GUYS. 👋🏽
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) January 25, 2022
Job well done
21:16 , Matt Verri
— Équipe du Maroc (@EnMaroc) January 25, 2022
21:05 , Matt Verri
Ivory Coast face Egypt tomorrow in the last 16, in what should be a brilliant match.
Egypt will play the winners in the quarter-final - certainly no easy task for them, regardless of who goes through.
20:54 , Matt Verri
Morocco 2-1 Malawi
That’s the full-time whistle, Morocco are through to the quarter-finals!
They had to work really hard for it, Malawi put in a brilliant performance. The underdogs took the lead in outrageous fashion through Mhango, but En-Nesyri and Hakimi have turned it round for Morocco.
20:53 , Matt Verri
90+3 mins: Morocco should really seal the win, but they don’t take the chance.
Hakimi’s shot from range is parried straight out, not great goalkeeping. Mmaee has a chance from the follow-up, but he steers it wide from close range.
20:50 , Matt Verri
90 mins: Four minutes added on.
Malawi with a free-kick, chance for them to throw everyone forward. They give it away a really cheap foul though, and all the pressure is released.
20:47 , Matt Verri
87 mins: Good pressing from Malawi, and they force Bounou into a poor clearance up the pitch.
Worked out wide, it’s whipped into the Morocco box... or at least that was the plan. Over everyone and out for a goal-kick.
20:44 , Matt Verri
84 mins: That’s not going to help Malawi, they give away a cheap foul as Hakimi goes down.
Morocco able to let the seconds tick by, they’re on their way to the quarter-finals as it stands.
20:42 , Matt Verri
82 mins: Probably just over ten minutes to go, including stoppage-time. The late charge has to come soon from Malawi, they’ve got nothing to lose now.
Morocco will enjoy the space they leave if they do that though, and they look very comfortable playing around the press. Hakimi bursts forward, but he loses it this time.
Winning goal as it stands...
20:38 , Matt Verri
THAT IS MAGICAL!!! 🤩
Take a bow, Achraf Hakimi 🔥 pic.twitter.com/LPrE5bKh1O
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) January 25, 2022
20:38 , Matt Verri
78 mins: WONDERFUL BLOCK!
Morocco look certain to make it 3-1, as they get to the byline and play it back into the path of En-Nesyri. He runs onto it from the penalty spot, but Phiri appears from nowhere to deflect it behind for a corner.
That was destined for the corner, without that challenge.
20:35 , Matt Verri
76 mins: Frustrations growing for Malawi, as Mhango brings it forward and thinks he’s won a throw-in. Given the other way.
It’s getting to the stage where you’d think he’s going to start shooting from anywhere within 50 yards!
20:33 , Matt Verri
73 mins: Unlike the equaliser in the first-half, you wouldn’t say that goal was coming. Malawi were holding their own.
But a moment of magic has put Morocco back in front. What do Malawi have left now?
GOAL! Morocco 2-1 Malawi | Achraf Hakimi 70'
20:29 , Matt Verri
WHAT. A. GOAL.
Being treated to some stunning strikes this evening!
Free-kick 25 yards out, Hakimi standing over it which is always a danger. He whips it over the wall and into the top corner, it’s absolutely perfect. Thomu can’t get anywhere near it.
20:26 , Matt Verri
67 mins: Is this going to be a penalty for Morocco?
Chembezi slides in to block Hakimi’s low cross, and it hits the Malawi defender’s trailing arm. VAR check... no penalty!
The fact Chembezi went down holding his stomach, after it hit his arm, would suggest he was feeling guilty.
20:25 , Matt Verri
65 mins: Hakimi makes a brilliant overlapping run, and that allows Mmaee to cut inside onto his left foot.
Goes for goal, deflects over the goalkeeper but thankfully for Malawi it drops just wide. That could very easily have landed in the back of the net.
Looks like Hakimi pretty much went for goal from the corner, straight into the side-netting.
20:22 , Matt Verri
63 mins: Nearly for Malawi, great ball into the box and Mbulu makes the run to the near post. Just over his head.
The goalkeeper had come out and wasn’t getting anywhere near it, so any contact and that would probably have been a goal.
20:21 , Matt Verri
61 mins: Sanudi shown a yellow card, and even he doesn’t complaint about that.
Boufal turns him, and the right-back swiftly chops him down. Not a good challenge at all. It will be Boufal to take the free-kick, good angle for him to whip something into the box. Or not, doesn’t been the first man.
Mhango leads the break, and he goes for goal from about the halfway line. Doesn’t pull it off this time!
20:18 , Matt Verri
58 mins: Nice skill from Boufal and he cuts a lovely ball back into the box, but there’s no Morocco shirt there.
Banda then draws a foul from Hakimi, and that gives Malawi a chance to slow things down.
20:15 , Matt Verri
56 mins: Both sides have had bright moments, but no big chances at the start of this half.
That will suit Malawi just fine, they’ve done enough to slow down the momentum Morocco had towards the end of the first 45 minutes.
20:13 , Matt Verri
53 mins: Mmaee on to replace Kaabi for Morocco. Malawi made a change at the start of the half, Mbulu coming on in place of Muyaba.
Morocco float a free-kick into the box, and they win the first header but Thomu can claim.
20:11 , Matt Verri
51 mins: Ball over the top and Mhango is quickly running onto it.
Bounou takes an absolute age to come off his line and eventually claim, just before Mhango gets there. We’ll give the goalkeeper the benefit of the doubt and assume he knew the Malawi striker was offside.
20:09 , Matt Verri
49 mins: It’s an open start to the second-half... this match has been far more open than most of the knockout games so far.
Madinga cuts in on off the right wing and goes for goal from range, but he slices it well wide.
20:07 , Matt Verri
47 mins: Chance for Malawi to break early in the half.
Four players in the box for them, but the cross is a dreadful one. Morocco will be looking to take advantage of any time Malawi lose it like that, there’s space for them to exploit.
Boufal cuts inside, but fires a shot well over the bar.
20:05 , Matt Verri
Second-half has begun. Let’s hope for more of the same entertainment!
20:03 , Matt Verri
How much of a blow will that goal late in the half prove to be? Would have been a big boost for Malawi to make it to the break.
They’ve still got a real threat on the break though, Mhango has looked bright every time he’s had space to run into.
19:56 , Matt Verri
First-half stats for you...
78% of possession for Morocco, who have been dominant since that early goal. 14 shots, 7 on target... Thomu has been a busy man.
It looked like Malawi would hold on until half-time, but they couldn’t quite make it to the break.
That incredible opening goal...
19:53 , Matt Verri
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) January 25, 2022
19:51 , Matt Verri
And that’s the break, 1-1.
Breathless first-half. Mhango put Malawi ahead with an unbelievable long-distance strike, but Morocco have been piling on the pressure and En-Nesyri got the equaliser in stoppage time.
Big challenge for Malawi in the second half.
19:50 , Matt Verri
45+3 mins: Morocco should now be in front!
Malawi really struggling. Keeper comes for a ball into the box, doesn’t get there. En-Nesyri is then free with an open goal to aim at, but his header is over the bar.
Mhone isn’t able to continue for Malawi, he’s off.
GOAL! Morocco 1-1 Malawi | Youssef En-Nesyri 45+2 mins
19:48 , Matt Verri
MOROCCO LEVEL BEFORE THE BREAK!
Corner is initially cleared, but it’s then clipped back in to the far post. En-Nesyri is free, nobody can get up to challenge him and he’s not going to miss from a few yards out.
Header too powerful for Thomu to keep out, and it’s level.
19:46 , Matt Verri
45 mins: Head down from Mhango and he charges forward on the left. Amrabat can’t keep up with hi, but Mhanga is isolated and can’t beat the whole Morocco defence by himself.
Hakimi continues to cause problems, and he wins a corner for his side. Mhone down for Malawi, he’s the latest player to get treatment.
Three minutes added on.
19:44 , Matt Verri
43 mins: That was an absolutely brilliant save from Thomu to deny Hakimi. Got a deflection in front of him, and he still got down to divert it onto the post.
He’s been so impressive for Malawi in this evening, and he’s had to be.
Morocco... MISS! How have they not equalised?! It’s another delightful move, Boufal plays a perfect one-two and is clean through. Lifts it over the goalkeeper, and over the bar.
19:42 , Matt Verri
41 mins: Good work from Madinga to track back and block a cross from Hakimi.
Morocco get to the byline though with Boufal, pulls it back perfectly to Hakimi. Opens up his body and guides it into the far corner... tipped onto the post!
Morocco denied by the woodwork again. Here they come once more, Boufal inside and gets the shot away. Thom saves again!
19:39 , Matt Verri
38 mins: Long ball floated into the box. Thomu should catch that without any fuss, but instead punches it away and clatters his teammate Chaziya in doing so. Malawi need to see it through to half-time, becoming a bit rushed from them.
That will help, Muyaba brings it forward and draws a cheap foul.
19:37 , Matt Verri
36 mins: All Morocco now. Saiss long to Boufal, and it’s a brilliant touch to bring it down.
He squares it into the box, falls to En-Nesyri but he can’t sort his feet out quick enough and flicks a really team effort straight at Thomu.
19:35 , Matt Verri
34 mins: SAISS HITS THE BAR!
It’s a brilliant ball into the box, Saiss looks certain to score from six-yards out but he diverts it onto the bar. Cushioned it with his left foot, which lifted the shot onto the woodwork.
Had to score from there.
19:33 , Matt Verri
33 mins: Chembezi being stretchered off after that, but he’s up on his feet again on the sidelines. Quick concussion test, looks like he might be coming back on.
Didn’t get caught flush in the face, he just about turned away in time and took a lot of the impact on his shoulder.
Madinga into the book for Malawi after a foul on Hakimi. Another free-kick for Morocco.
19:30 , Matt Verri
30 mins: You can see from a mile off that En-Nesyri is winding up for the bicycle kick. He does so, but catches Chembezi.
Free-kick Malawi, and that’s a painful one for the defender.
19:28 , Matt Verri
28 mins: Shape all over the place now though, as Malawi commit players forward on the break and then lose it.
Boufal is then brought down on the edge of the box by Chaziya, real chance for Morocco.
Hakimi fancies this... SAVED. And again from the follow up! Louza should have done better with the rebound, but it’s an impressive save. Corner Morocco - headed away.
19:26 , Matt Verri
25 mins: Amallah want a free-kick as he goes down under a challenge from a couple of Malawi midfielders... not going to get it.
Plenty of Malawi shirts for Morocco to have to get through every time they attack. Really solid shape.
19:24 , Matt Verri
23 mins: HUGE CHANCE!
Malawi should be 2-0 up. Mhango played through, the Morocco defence is so open and the Malawi striker is in on goal.
Drags the shot wide with his left foot though, only had the goalkeeper to beat. Big moment.
19:22 , Matt Verri
22 mins: Defending just starting to become a bit more desperate from Malawi.
Masina flies forward on the overlap, cuts it back low into the box and the defenders do well not to dive in and bring Louza down. He can’t find the space to get the shot away.
19:21 , Matt Verri
20 mins: Hakimi keeps getting forward on the right and Malawi are struggling to contain him.
Another good ball into the box, it’s just behind En-Nesyri though and he can only send it wide as he swivels. Not far away from finding the corner.
19:19 , Matt Verri
19 mins: Sanudi in pain and getting some treatment, looks to be holding his arm. Going to continue for now.
Won’t be any Malawi players wanting to come off after this start!
19:18 , Matt Verri
17 mins: Nice ball in, but Chembezi does well to head it away. Another Morocco corner though.
Too much on this one, over everyone’s head. Morocco quickly put it back into the box though, Boufal starting to cause problems.
Lays it off to Louza who catches it sweetly, but the goalkeeper Thomu beats it away.
19:16 , Matt Verri
15 mins: Wide to Boufal, and he can run at the Malawi defence.
Chops inside and it briefly opens up for the shoot, but he’s quickly closed down. Louza then goes for goal from miles out, maybe inspired by Mhango’s effort.
This one is scuffed, but he gets a corner as it’s deflected behind.
19:14 , Matt Verri
14 mins: Strange pass back from Amrabat, Saiss has to head it away with Mhango waiting for any slip-up.
Every time Malawi get the ball, they’re wasting no time in getting forward. Really positive from them.
19:13 , Matt Verri
12 mins: Malawi forward again, and they sent a long throw into the box. Hakimi heads it away.
Amrabat then sends it out to the right-back and it’s a wonderful ball into the box. Thomu fumbles it in goal, luckily for him it falls to a Malawi shirt and they can hack it clear.
19:11 , Matt Verri
10 mins: Morocco look a bit stunned after that, unsurprisingly.
They try and play a quick ball forward, but too much on it and Malawi have a goal-kick. They’ve got something to hold onto now, a perfect start.
GOAL! Morocco 0-1 Malawi | Gabadinho Mhango 7'
19:08 , Matt Verri
MALAWI LEAD WITH AN ABSOLUTE STUNNER!
It’s played in to Mhango, he must be nearly 40 yards out. Sees the goalkeeper slightly off his line, goes for goal and it FLIES into the top corner.
Astonishing goal, and Malawi take an early lead out of absolutely nothing!
19:06 , Matt Verri
5 mins: Poor from En-Nesyri, ball comes out to him on the winger under no pressure and he lets it roll straight under his foot.
Malawi leaving Muyaba right up on the Moroccan defence, with Mhango getting up to support him where possible.
19:04 , Matt Verri
3 mins: Mhango gets his first chance of the night to run on the Morocco defence.
Looks to go on the outside, but loses it this time. Malawi will want to keep feeding him the ball though, been bright all tournament.
19:03 , Matt Verri
2 mins: Morocco with all the early possession, as you’d expect. Malawi looking sold in their shape.
A couple of loose touches from Hakimi nearly let Malawi nip in to break, but the right-back does enough to keep the ball.
19:01 , Matt Verri
We are underway in the last 16 clash!
18:58 , Matt Verri
Burkina Faso, Gambia, Tunisia, Cameroon, Senegal.
Will it be Morocco or Malawi that join those sides in the last 16? We’ll find out very soon.
18:53 , Matt Verri
Players out onto the pitch, not long now until kick-off.
National anthems, a couple of huddles.... and then we’ll be ready!
18:49 , Matt Verri
Wins over Ghana and Comoros, and then a draw against Gabon in the final group match. It was a relatively comfortable progression to the knockout stages for Morocco.
Malawi, meanwhile, qualified as a best third-placed team, getting out of the groups for the first time in their history.
18:41 , Matt Verri
About 20 minutes to go until kick-off.
Tough assignment in the quarter-finals for whoever gets through tonight - Ivory Coast or Egypt in the last 16.
Banda: We don’t fear Morocco
18:29 , Matt Verri
Malawi captain John Banda insists his side will not be intimidated by the challenge that Morocco present, as they target a huge upset.
“The team is physically and emotionally well,” Banda said.
“Morocco game is the biggest game of our lives, and we are looking forward to it. We respect Morocco, but we don’t fear them.
“It is true that they are favourites, but we are here to play our game and pursue our goals.”
Halilhodzic: There are no favourites
18:15 , Matt Verri
Morocco head coach Vahid Halilhodzic is confident there will be no complacency from his side tonight, despite them being strong favourites.
“The players are aware that they must have a combative attitude,” Halilhodzic said.
“The competition has shown here that there are no favourites. Everyone can move forward. We will enter this game with maximum concentration. Fortunately, our players are ready to give their contribution.
“We came here to win, and our hope is to qualify. I am happy because this is a generation that in a few years will make history. They have the potential to move on.”
Malawi team news
18:03 , Malik Ouzia
Malawi XI: Thom; Sanudi, Chembezi, Chaziya, Chirwa; Banda, Idana, Mhone; Madinga, Mhango, Muyaba
Morocco team news
18:01 , Malik Ouzia
— Équipe du Maroc (@EnMaroc) January 25, 2022
17:58 , Malik Ouzia
We should have confirmed team news in the next few minutes...
17:45 , Malik Ouzia
Morocco wins: 6
Malawi wins: 1
Standard Sport prediction
17:35 , Malik Ouzia
Morocco were one of the sturdier teams in the group stages and this could prove one game too far for plucky Malawi.
Morocco to win, 2-0.
Malawi team news
17:27 , Malik Ouzia
Having sat out the Senegal game, Malawi’s Limbikani Mzava is again a doubt for this tie with both sides otherwise reporting no fresh injury or Covid-19 concerns.
Morocco team news
17:16 , Malik Ouzia
QPR winger Ilias Chair is a big doubt for Morocco after coming off early in the draw against Gabon that closed their group stage.
Achraf Hakimi trained ahead of the game having also been a doubt, with coach Vahid Halilhodzic stating his optimism that the star full-back will make the game. Defenders Mohamed Chibi and Sofiane Alakouch have shaken off knocks and are ready for the game.
How to watch
17:06 , Malik Ouzia
TV channel: The match will be televised on Sky Sports Premier League.
Live stream: Sky Sports subscribers will be able to watch the match online via the Sky Go app.
17:05 , Malik Ouzia
Hello and welcome to Standard Sport’s LIVE coverage of this evening’s Africa Cup of Nations last-16 clash between Morocco and Malawi.
We’ll have all the team news and build-up ahead of a 7pm GMT kick-off...