Essien keeps Ghana's party going
Ghana, to the general relief of this fanatical football nation, are through to the CAF Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals after a 2-0 win over Morroco on Monday.
Michael Essien was at the heart of the success, scoring the first and setting up Sulley Muntari for the second.
With Guinea booking the other last eight berth from Group A defeat left Morocco heading home in a repeat of their first round exit in Egypt in 2006.
This was Ghana's third opening round win after Guinea (3-1) and Namibia (1-0) and it was received with raucous delight by the near capacity crowd at the 45,000 seater Ohene Djan stadium.
The Black Stars' reward for finishing as table toppers is a quarter-final date with the runners-up in Group B in Accra next Sunday.
Ghana were without their influential Hearts midfielder Laryea Kingston, suspended after picking up a second booking against the Namibians.
In Kingston's absence coach Claude Le Roy chose Norwegian-based Anthony Annan.
Morocco coach Henri Michel made four changes to the side that fell to Guinea, including a switch of keepers, with Khalid Fouhami making way for Nadir Lamyaghri, and Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh reinforcing the attack.
Soufiane Alloudi, injured after getting a hat-trick against Namibia, started on the bench.
Le Roy insisted before the game that despite his side only needing a point it wasn't in his team's nature to play for a draw as he eyed a top of the table finish for the 2008 hosts.
And with words of encouragement from Ghana President John Kufuor ringing in their ears the Black Stars went into attacking mode from the start, Essien leading the charge from midfield.
On 15 minutes Lamyaghri had to look sharp to deal with a 30 yard freekick from Portsmouth's long shot specialist Muntari.
Ghana went into a deserved lead 11 minutes later when Muntari neatly chipped in a freekick over the wall from the right for Essien to volley past Lamyaghri.
Morocco had the ball in the back of the net shortly after with a little help from Ghana defender John Paintsil but the West Ham defender's blushes were saved as the Gambian referee Modou Sowe had already blown for a foul.
Down at the other end it was Asamoah Gyan's turn to trouble Lamyaghri.
The Udinese striker, who had been set to quit the squad after taunts and threats about his nervy display against Namibia, hit low and hard from the left, his effort edging wide of the far post.
Ghana capped a fine first half with their second goal, with this time Essien charging through midfielder to flick the ball on for Muntari to shoot from the left of the box on 45 minutes.
It was always going to be a tall order for Morocco to come back from two goals down, not least with 45,000 vocal fans against them, and a Ghana side that bore little or no resemblance to the unconvincing model that edged past minnows Namibia.
Michel brought on striker Moncef Zenka for ineffective Hicham Aboucherouane before the hour was up as the experienced African coach looked to ways to unlock the compact Ghanaian defence.
There was a worrying moment in the 65th minute when Essien was stretchered off but the Chelsea star was quickly back on his feet, to the relief of Le Roy, his teammates, and the partisan crowd.
Only a fine reflex save from Lamyaghri to keep out Gyan's header from point blank range stopped the Black Stars making it three.