Tuesday 24 January 2017, 21:12

Morocco knock out holders Côte d'Ivoire

THE DAY REPLAYED – Côte d'Ivoire's title defence is over after the CAF Africa Cup of Nations champions lost to Morocco in the final round of Group C games. Having waited so long to claim the title last time out, the Elephants are now heading home along with Togo, who succumbed to section winners Congo DR, with the Atlas Lions finishing runners-up. FIFA.comrecaps both of Tuesday's matches.

The day's results*Group C* Togo 1-3 Congo DR Morocco 1-0 Côte d'Ivoire

The analysisBoth teams gave everything, as Côte d'Ivoire and Morocco delivered a high-octane spectacle right from the start. The Elephants were already beginning to sweat when Faycal Fajr curled a superb free-kick against the crossbar on 25 minutes, and they never recovered from Rachid Alioui's sumptuous effort with an hour gone. That goal ultimately separated the sides, transforming Morocco coach Herve Renard from a hero to a villain for the Côte d'Ivoire fans – two years after he led the team to continental glory. Their Moroccan counterparts can now look forward to the knockout stage, 13 years on from reaching the final in 2004.

Third at the last edition, meanwhile, Congo DR laid down a serious marker by securing top spot in the group, thanks to a comfortable victory against Togo, who return home with just a single point. Junior Kabananga got the ball rolling with his third goal in as many games, racing through powerfully on goal after half an hour. Firmin Mubele Ndombe doubled Congo DR's advantage ten minutes into the second half, and although Togo substitute Kodjo Fodoh Laba reduced the deficit a quarter of an hour later, Paul-Jose Mpoku sealed the result with ten minutes remaining.

Safely through to the quarter-finals, the top two sides in the section must now wait until Group D reaches its climax on Wednesday to discover their next opponents.

Highlight of the dayAlioui's decisive goal for Morocco was the evening's undisputed crowning moment. Despite finding himself with very few options on the edge of the Ivorian area as his team broke forward, the Nimes Olympique striker curled a magnificent shot past Elephants goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo for the match winner.

The stat 23 – The number of years since Morocco last beat Côte d'Ivoire, with their previous victory coming at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations. The two teams met as recently as 12 November, recording a goalless draw on the road to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

Next matchday*Wednesday 25 January (all times local*)

Group D Uganda-Mali (20.00) Egypt-Ghana (20.00)

The winners of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 will represent the continent at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.