• Press review: Boutaib hits a hat-trick as Morocco move to the top of Group C

    (BBC) Khalid Boutaib hit a hat-trick as Morocco beat Gabon 3-0 in Casablanca to leapfrog Ivory Coast at the top of Group C.

    Boutaib headed hosts Morocco ahead in the 38th minute with the Turkey-based forward adding a second in the 56th minute and he completed his hat-trick in the 72nd minute.

    Morocco now have a slender one-point lead over Ivory Coast and both countries will fight for the sole group ticket on the final day in Abidjan on 6 November.

    Gabon, who were buoyed by the return to the squad of their superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, are now eliminated from the race to Russia.

    African WC Qualifying Group C Played Points

    Morocco 5 9

    Ivory Coast 5 8

    Gabon 5 5

    Mali 5 3

    In 1986, the Atlas Lions became the first African country to win a World Cup group as well as reach the second round of the tournament.

    The 1976 African Champions finished in the group stage in 1970, 1994 and 1998.

    On Friday night, Ivory Coast drew 0-0 way to Mali in Bamako which briefly put them top of the standings.

    Mali's Moussa Doumbia missed a first half sitter and struck the crossbar in the second half as the hosts came close to their first win of the campaign.

    The Ivorians, who lost several key players to injury on the eve of the game, moved to eight points from five matches.

    Mali are now definitely out of contention for a place at next year's finals.

    Only the group winners will qualify for Russia 2018.

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