DR Congo keep qualification hopes alive after holding favourites Morocco

Favourites Morocco missed their chance to seal a place in the next stage of the Africa Cup of Nations after being held to a 1-1 draw by DR Congo in San Pedro.

The 2022 World Cup semi-finalists grabbed a sixth-minute lead through Achraf Hakimi but rode their luck when Cedric Bakambu hit a post with a 41st-minute penalty.

The visitors pressed forward in the second half and got their reward when substitute Silas swept home a 76th-minute equaliser that keeps Congo’s hopes of qualifying from Group F alive.

Hakimi’s world-class volley from a Hakim Ziyech corner suggested Morocco, who had cruised through their opening match against Tanzania, would have enough to claim a second straight win.

Congo captain Chancel Mbemba almost turned the ball into his own net four minutes later as Morocco pressed, but the underdogs looked dangerous on the counter-attack through Brentford forward Yoane Wissa.

Mbemba was inches from getting the crucial touch to a corner just past the half-hour mark and after lengthy treatment to the injured Henock Inonga, the referee awarded Congo a penalty for handball after a VAR check.

Bakambu’s miss looked set to cost Congo, who were held to a frustrating draw by Zambia in their opening match, but substitutes Meschack Elia and Silas combined to level in the 76th minute when the latter’s deep cross was swept home.

A similar cross from Elia caused chaos two minutes later as Fiston Mayele forced a save out of Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou as Congo pressed for an unlikely winner.

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