Ivory Coast were forced to fight back to hold the Democratic Republic of Congo to a 2-2 draw in their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) clash at the Stade d’Oyem on Friday evening.
As a result DR Congo remain at the top of the group C standings with four points, while the defending champions Ivory Coast move up to second with two points.
The Leopards dominated the opening exchanges of the encounter and they deservedly took the lead just 10 minutes into the game.
Junior Kabananga set-up his Congolese teammate Neeskens Kebano, who rifled the ball low into the far corner; beating Ivory Coast goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo.
Ivory Coast then stepped up the tempo and they won a corner-kick in the 26th minute following a good move by the Elephants.
Max Gradel then whipped in a good cross from the resulting set-piece which found his Elephants teammate Wilfried Bony, who headed home to level matters.
But the lead only lasted for four minutes as Kabananga also scored with a header to restore DR Congo’s lead – exposing Ivory Coast’s poor marking in the process.
DR Congo keeper Ley Matampi then denied Ivory Coast defender Serge Aurier on the stroke of halftime, as the Leopards held onto their 2-1 lead heading into the break.
Unsurprisingly, Ivory Coast played really high up the pitch, pressing DR Congo in the opening stages of the second half in search of the equalising goal.
Cheick Doukoure unleashed a powerful strike in the 62nd minute, but Matampi was equal to the task as he punched away the Ivorian midfielder’s effort.
Ivory Coast’s pressure paid off five minutes later as Serey Die’s long range effort deflected slightly off Marcel Tisserand and into the back of the net.
Unmarked, Aurier, should have snatched the winning goal for the Elephants in the 87th minute, but somehow the full-back mistimed his header across goal.
Despite late attacks by both sides, they were unable to find the back of the net and the game ended in a 2-2 draw – with Ivory Coast recording another stalemate.
Ivory Coast (1) 2 (Bony 26′, Die 67′)
DR Congo (2) 2 (Kebano 10′, Kabananga 29′)
Ivory Coast: Gbohouo; Aurier, Kanon, Bailly, Traore (Del 46′); Doukoure, Kessie, Serey Die; Zaha, Bony, Gradel (Kalou 77′)
DR Congo: Matampi; Ikoko (Mulumbu 72′), Tisserand, Mbemba, Issama; Maghoma (Mulumba 72′), Bope; Mubele, Kebano, Kage; Mbokani
© Backpage TXT