DR Congo Triumphs Over Egypt in Thrilling AFCON Shootout, Advances to Quarter-Finals

Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations - Round of 16 - Egypt v DR Congo - Laurent Pokou Stadium, San Pedro, Ivory Coast - January 28, 2024 DR Congo´s Gedeon Kalulu celebrate with teammates after the match REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

DR Congo ousted seven-time champions Egypt in a dramatic penalty shootout, advancing to the quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw that extended into extra time.

The match saw DR Congo, ranked 67th globally, take an early lead with Meschack Elia heading in a cross from Yoane Wissa. This initial advantage, however, was short-lived as Egypt’s Mostafa Mohamed leveled the score with a penalty just before the half-time whistle, following a foul involving Dylan Batubinsika.

The game intensified as Egypt was reduced to 10 men in extra time due to a second yellow card for left-back Mohamed Hamdy. The shootout that followed was a nerve-wracking affair, culminating in the ninth round when DR Congo’s goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi scored the decisive penalty, securing an 8-7 victory after Egypt’s keeper Gabaski clipped the top of the crossbar.

This defeat marked a significant setback for Egypt, particularly in the absence of their injured captain Mohamed Salah. The team, led by coach Rui Vitoria, replicated their unfortunate fate from the 2021 final, where they also lost on penalties to Senegal.

Throughout the match, DR Congo demonstrated commendable resilience and skill. Early in the game, Hegazi missed a close-range header for Egypt, and Mahmoud Hamada slipped during a key moment in the closing stages of regular time. DR Congo had opportunities to secure their lead earlier, notably when Elia sent a powerful shot over the goal in the third minute.

The penalty shootout was a rollercoaster, with both teams missing their second attempts. However, Mpasi showcased remarkable poise, striking the ball into the top right-hand corner, outplaying Gabaski, known for his penalty-saving prowess in previous tournaments.

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