Congo knocks Egypt out of Africa Cup on penalties and will play Guinea in quarterfinals
- Cote d'Ivoire
Congo knocked seven-time champion Egypt out of the Africa Cup of Nations with an 8-7 win on penalties after the teams finished 1-1 after extra time in the round-of-16 match.
Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal struck the crossbar with his spot kick before Congo counterpart Lionel Mpasi stepped up to send the Leopards into the quarterfinals.
Also known as Gabaski, Abou Gabal – whose saves almost won the title for Egypt in the last edition – was playing because regular goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy dislocated his shoulder in the team's final group game against Cape Verde.
It was the latest misfortune for Egypt, which lost Liverpool star Mohamed Salah to a hamstring injury during the 2-2 draw with Ghana in their second match.
The Egyptian Football Association sacrificed a cow on Thursday in an effort to change the team's luck.
However, the Pharaohs' defense was caught out by a quick throw in for Congo's opening goal, scored by Meschack Elia in the 37th.
Mostafa Mohamed equalized from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time. But extra time was needed between two teams that had failed to win any of their games so far.
It was the eighth consecutive Africa Cup match that Egypt failed to win in normal time including the previous tournament.
Egypt finished the game with 10 players when defender Mohamed Hamdy was sent off in the first period of extra time with his second yellow card for a late challenge on Simon Banza.
In the shootout, Mohamed struck Egypt's second penalty to the right of the goal, but Congo's Arthur Masuaku reciprocated by sending his effort over and no other players missed until Abou Gabal did.
Congo will next face Guinea.
GUINEA STRIKES LATE Mohamed Bayo scored in the eighth minute of stoppage time to send the National Elephants into the quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over 10-man Equatorial Guinea.
The game was heading for extra time when Ibrahim Diakité crossed for Boya to finally break the deadlock with a header inside the near post.
It was effectively the last play of the game, which left the exhausted Equatoguinean players slumped on the field. A majority of the 36,340 fans in attendance celebrated, mindful of Equatorial Guinea's 4-0 win over Ivory Coast in the previous match – a result that almost knocked the host nation out.
But the Guinea players and fans had their own reasons to celebrate.
"It means a lot because we knew the historic nature that this match had. We knew that, by winning, it would be the first time since 1976 that we won a knockout game," said Guinea coach Kaba Diawara, who wiped away tears as he left the field and was applauded by journalists before the post-match news conference. "We're proud. We've been working together for two years and we've grown together," Diawara said. "We managed to adapt, even if the manner wasn't the best. Last minute. But I said I wanted us to win. And that's what we did." Tournament top scorer Emilio Nsue missed a penalty in the 69th minute for Equatorial Guinea when his spot kick struck the right post. It maintained the game's zero shots on target up to that point.
The penalty was awarded through VAR for a foul by Guinea defender Sekou Sylla on Iban Salvador.
Equatorial Guinea defender Federico Bikoro was shown a straight red card in the 55th for kicking Bayo while attempting a clearance.
Guinea star Serhou Guirassy made his entrance to a huge roar from the supporters shortly afterward. The Stuttgart forward's impact has been limited by a thigh injury sustained in a pre-tournament warmup. "I think I can start the next game, but you have to ask the trainer,'' Guirassy told The Associated Press.
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