The excitement of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) knockout stage took a bit of a dip on its second day compared to the thrilling first day. Nevertheless, it delivered a few interesting talking points.
Here’s a more detailed report of all the action.
Equatorial Guinea 0-1 Guinea
Group stage high flyers Equatorial Guinea saw their AFCON campaign come to a gut-wrenching end after losing 1-0 to a last-gasp winner from Guinea.
Fans from both sides had precious little to be excited about in a highly uninspiring first half, as neither nation registered a shot on target.
Guinea squandered the first decent goalscoring opportunity inside the opening three minutes as Mohamed Bayo struck the side-netting from a tight angle.
Equatorial Guinea monopolised possession but barely threatened the Guinea goal. Both sides managed three shots apiece but failed to hit the target.
After a drab first-half showing, the game sparked into life in the second period. AFCON top scorer Emilio Nsue had a chance to break the deadlock but sent his volley from point-blank range uncharacteristically off target.
Guinea thought they had taken the lead a few minutes later when Mory Konate headed home a free kick but were denied by an offside call.
The second half was far more lively than the first, and the complexion of the game changed further when Equatorial Guinea midfielder Federico Bikoro was sent off for a high challenge on Bayo.
The red card marked a major turning point in the game, but the Group A winners seemed unfazed and were gifted a golden opportunity to break the deadlock heading into the final 20 minutes.
The Elephants were awarded a penalty for a foul on Ivan Salvador, but Nsue could only find the outside of the post despite sending the goalkeeper the wrong way, leaving the whole stadium in shock.
Jolted into life by the reprieve, Guinea manager Kaba Diawara rolled the dice in a bid to snatch a win, introducing VfB Stuttgart marksman Serhou Guirassy.
It nearly proved an immediate masterstroke, but his bullet header was brilliantly tipped over by Jesus Owono.
Guinea ultimately had the last laugh as Bayo turned home a near post header deep into stoppage time to send his nation into the quarter-finals for the first time since 2015.
Egypt 1-1 DR Congo (7-8 on penalties)
The Democratic Republic of Congo maintained their charge for a first AFCON title in five decades after a wild penalty shoot-out win over seven-time champions Egypt.
Goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi was the unlikely hero as his spot-kick sent D.R. Congo to the quarter-finals following a 1-1 draw.
After failing to win any of their three group phase games, securing a place in the knockouts by the skin of their teeth, Egypt kicked off the last-16 clash on the front foot and created ample chances to open the scoring.
Ahmed Hegazy headed over from Marwan Attia’s right-wing cross before Mostafa Mohamed fluffed his effort from a promising position in the DR Congo box.
At the other end, the best early chance came when Theo Bongonda was found in space, but fired off target from close range.
Egypt controlled possession in the first half, but for all their attacking endeavour, it was DR Congo that took the lead in the 37th minute when Meschak Elia headed home Yoane Wissa’s deflected cross.
However, that advantage didn’t last long as Egypt responded on the stroke of half time. DR Congo conceded a harsh penalty, with Dylan Batubinsika penalised for a trailing arm on Hegazy.
In the absence of Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah, Mohamed stepped up and duly dispatched the spot-kick, netting his fourth goal in as many games at the tournament.
Egypt went into the break with the wind in their sails, but DR Congo looked the more likely side to grab the next goal in the second half as Cedric Bakambu and Chancel Mbemba spurned two decent chances.
Goalscoring opportunities were at a premium, and neither side could muster a winner in normal time. Considering both sides drew each of their three group games, it was unsurprising that extra time was required to decide the winner.
Seven minutes into the additional 30, DR Congo were handed a massive advantage when Egypt were reduced to ten men as Mohamed Hamdy picked up his second yellow for a late tackle on Simon Banza.
Despite the numerical advantage, the Leopards found it hard to break down Egypt’s low block, relentlessly spamming crosses into the box to create dangerous situations.
It nearly paid dividends as a couple of dangerous crosses narrowly evaded tired outstretched legs alongside Banza while Bongonda also missed the target.
Both sides failed to grab the all-important winner, and the tie headed into penalties.
Mohamed and Arthur Masuaku traded misses for either side before both teams netted six successive spot-kicks ahead of a dramatic finale.
Egypt’s goalkeeper Gabaski smashed his spot-kick against the crossbar before Mpasi emerged as a hero as he sent his fellow stopper the wrong way with a clinical finish.
DR Congo will face Guinea in the quarter-finals, while record champions Egypt have been eliminated at the round-of-16 stage for the second time in three tournaments.
Cape Verde, who sent shockwaves throughout the competition after finishing as Group B winners ahead of Egypt and Ghana, will be looking to maintain their unbeaten run when they take on Mauritania for a place in the last eight.
Defending champions Senegal will take on hosts Ivory Coast in the other last-16 fixture, which is poised to deliver a blockbuster contest.
How to watch?
All AFCON games are broadcast live on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. Numerous other live football streaming websites will allow you to watch the tournament in real time regardless of your location.
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