Ghana were staring down the barrel of consecutive AFCON group stage exits, going six competition matches without a win and in need of a positive result.
It seemed Chris Hughton’s men understood the task at hand, starting on the front foot with Bournemouth’s Antoine Semenyo stinging the palms of Ivane Urrubal inside the opening minute from distance.
Their attacking intent then came to fruition moments later, with Joseph Paintsil drawing a penalty when darting between Mexer and Nanani and catching a trailing leg in the process. On reflection, it looked a soft one from Libyan referee Mohamed Ibrahim, but skipper Jordan Ayew showed no mercy stroking the ball home on his 98th Ghana cap with Urrubal unmoved.
Andre Ayew’s introduction at the break signalled intent as he overtook legendary Rigobert Song as the all-time AFCON appearance maker with 37 over eight consecutive tournaments.
His first action was to be cautioned before signalling for calm amongst his ranks when Mozambique’s marauding left-back Bruno Langa went close with a driven effort from Lau King’s cutback. Just when the Mambas looked like they were building up a head of steam, their slim hopes were dashed when Ibrahim again pointed to the spot, this time as Mohammed Kudus’ effort crashed against Reinildo’s arm.
Jordan Ayew once again took responsibility, this time opting for the opposite side, sending a tormented Urrubal the wrong way.
It seemed harsh that two penalty kicks would define Mozambique’s tournament after a 12-year hiatus from the competition, but they had one of their own as they netted what they thought was a consolation late on when Andre Ayew handled in the box, allowing Geny Catamo to convert.
Remarkably, Ghana’s fate was then put out of their hands as Reinildo equalised in stoppage time with a well-timed header. With Egypt managing to secure an equally dramatic result in the group’s other tie, Ghana look likely to exit at the group stages for the second successive tournament on two points.