DR Congo have booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations after beating Egypt in Sunday’s last-16 encounter.
Congo had the first promising attack of the game when a quick burst forward saw Meschack Elia charging towards the Egypt box. However, he totally miscued his shot and sent it sailing high and wide.
The Central African nation were able to carve out a couple more opportunities, but they simply could not hit the target and, with their opponents enjoying much more time on the ball, it felt like a matter of time before their early wastefulness would come back to haunt them. However, it was the Leopards who broke the deadlock when Elia got on the end of a deflected Yoane Wissa cross and headed in from close range.
Just six minutes later, Egypt were given the opportunity to draw level just before half-time when Dylan Batubinsika caught Ahmed Hegazy with his forearm in a challenge for a header, resulting in a penalty after a VAR review. Mostafa Mohamed stepped up to convert the spot kick and score his fourth goal of the tournament.
DR Congo came out fighting in the second half and an early opportunity when Elia whipped in a cross to the front post for Cedric Bakambu who failed to steer it on target. Moments later, a corner was sent flying into the Egypt box and Chancel Mbemba came rushing in to meet it but sent it over the bar.
It wasn’t until the 60th minute that Egypt made their first chance of the half as Hamdi Fathy fed Zizo through but his shot was saved.
With the clock ticking down, Mohamed Hany sent the ball into a dangerous area and it fell for Mahmoud Hamada but he could not control it and completely scuppered a fantastic chance to get a late winner.
No decisive goal came in the 90 minutes, however, and the game went on to extra-time. In the next 30 minutes, both teams looked jaded as the players hardly showed any intent to score a winning goal.
After nine rounds of penalties, DR Congo eventually progressed to the quarterfinals as Lionel Mpasi converted the winning spot-kick.
In the absence of injured playmaker Gael Kakuta, it was feared that DR Congo would have a tough time carving out chances against the Egypt defence. However, Elia did a fantastic job of both creating and getting on the end of decent opportunities.
Despite being the hero when he came off the bench to inspire his team to the vital draw against Cape Verde that sealed their place in the last-16, Trezeguet looked like a completely different player when handed a start against DR Congo. He failed to act as a threat for a team that desperately needed someone to provide the kind of spark that we know him to be capable of.
The Leopards will go on to meet Guinea in the quarter-finals of the competition, with Salah’s hopes of a late return to the tournament after injury now dashed entirely. That game will go ahead at Alassane Ouattara Stadium on February 2. Source: goal.com