Youssef En-Nesyri was able to celebrate scoring a goal from the substitutes’ bench in a bizarre incident at the Africa Cup of Nations. The Morocco forward had been substituted in the time between putting the ball in the net and a lengthy VAR review that overturned the on-field decision to disallow the strike.
En-Nesyri was among the goals as the World Cup semi-finalists defeated 10-man Tanzania 3-0 at the Stade de San Pedro. The Sevilla star latched onto a pass by Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi before firing home in the 80th minute.
However, the goal was initially ruled out for offside, leaving En-Nesyri frustrated. Morocco manager Walid Regragui then made a trio of substitutions, including withdrawing the 26-year-old attacker.
Hakim Ziyech and Azzedine Ounahi also went off and the three players were replaced by Ayoub El Kaabi, Sofiane Boufal and Amine Harit. But as the substitution was being made, the officials were retrospectively double-checking the goal.
En-Nesyri had already taken his seat on the bench when the decision was made to allow the goal to stand after a lengthy check. Remarkably, he jumped out of the dugout and began to celebrate, before being mobbed by his team-mates.
The goal was the third in a routine victory for the north Africans. Former Wolves defender Romain Saiss had given Regragui’s side the lead after half an hour.
But it took Morocco until the latter stages of the game to add some gloss to the scoreline. Tanzania had Novatus Miroshi sent off in the 70th minute, with Ounahi – a star of Morocco’s World Cup run – scoring seven minutes later.
En-Nesyri’s strike sealed the victory just three minutes later. The result puts Morocco top of Group F.
“First matches are always difficult, and the humidity made this one tough, but we respected Tanzania,” head coach Regragui reflected. “The team’s spirit was very good and we got an important win.”
Elsewhere on Wednesday, DR Congo were held to a 1-1 draw by Zambia. On Thursday, hosts Ivory Coast meet Nigeria in one of the most widely anticipated group stage fixtures.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah’s Egypt are hoping to earn their first win of the tournament against Ghana. Salah and co. drew surprisingly drew 2-2 with Mozambique in their opening game, with the Liverpool forward netting a 97th-minute penalty.