Missed penalties - one in normal time and two in the shootout - cost Sofiane Boufal's Morocco a place in the Africa Cup of Nations after a 4-1 spot-kick defeat to Benin in Cairo on Friday evening.
Despite Nemim’s opener through Moise Adilehou early in the second half, Morocco looked certain to reach the last eight once Yousse En-Nesyri had equalised 15 monutes from time but endured a torrid time from the penalty spot thereafter.
Boufal, a second-half substitute for Younes Belhanda, injected added impetus to the North Africans’ territorial dominace and the pressure to have told deep into stoppage time.
Stéphane Sesssengnon’s foul on Achraf Hakimi gave Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech the chance to seal victory with the last kick of the game only for the midfielder to slam his spot-kick against the post.
Unfancied Benin hung on for penalties following the dismissal of Khaled Adénon for two bookable offences, braving a Moroccan onslaught to unexpectedly pip their opponents at the post.
Boufal blazed his penalty over the bar and Saturnin Allagbe saved from El-Nesyri while Benin converted all four of their spot-kicks to set up a quarter-final tie with either Uganda or Senegal.