D.R. Congo dump Egypt out of AFCON after dramatic penalty shootout

D.R. Congo celebrate their penalty shootout win
The Democratic Republic of Congo remain on course for their first Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title in 50 years after a dramatic penalty shootout win over Egypt. Goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi was the unlikely hero as his spot-kick sent DRC through to the quarter-finals following a 1-1 draw.

The Pharaohs had a couple of huge opportunities to open the scoring early on when Ahmed Hegazy headed over from Marwan Attia’s right-wing cross before Mostafa Mohamed fluffed his kick from a promising position in the box. At the other end, the best early chance came when Théo Bongonda was found in space, but fired off target from near the penalty spot.

That was a sign of things to come from the 1974 champions, who took the lead on 37 minutes when Meschack Elia nodded his side into a 1-0 lead, although he could barely miss from inches out as he met Yoane Wissa’s deflected cross.

That advantage didn’t last long though, with Rui Vitória’s side equalising before HT. A VAR review led to a harsh penalty being awarded against Dylan Batubinsika for a trailing arm on Hegazy, and Mohamed duly dispatched the spot-kick, his fourth goal in as many games at the tournament.

Mohamed equalised for Egypt
Despite their opponents having the momentum going into the break, it was DR Congo who looked most likely victors after it, although Cédric Bakambu and Chancel Mbemba spurned two decent openings. Chances were generally at a premium, with both teams knowing the prize at stake, but Egypt grew in confidence as the game wore on, with Zizo and Attia seeing shots saved.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given both teams have drawn each of their three group games, ET was required to decide the winner. Seven minutes into the additional 30, the Pharaohs were reduced to 10 men when Mohamed Hamdy picked up his second yellow card for a late tackle on Simon Banza.

The Leopards still found it tough to break down a stubborn defence though, with a couple of dangerous crosses narrowly avoiding tired outstretched legs alongside Banza and Bongonda missing the target.

With no winning goal forthcoming, the tie headed to penalties, the same method by which Egypt had lost the 2021 final to Senegal. Mohamed and Arthur Masuaku traded misses for either side before both teams netted six successive spot-kicks.

Goalkeeper Gabaski then smashed against the crossbar for the Pharaohs, leading to Mpasi dramatically making himself a hero as he sent his fellow stopper the wrong way with a clinical finish.

D.R. Congo are targeting their first AFCON in 50 years
The result means DR Congo are through to the AFCON quarter-finals where they’ll face Guinea for the first time since 2017, while Egypt are sent packing at the round-of-16 stage for the second time in three tournaments.