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Africa Cup of Nations

Egypt knocked out of AFCON by DR Congo after penalty shootout

Record seven-time champions Egypt, lacking injured talisman Mohamed Salah, were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday after losing a penalty shootout 8-7 against DR Congo. 

Goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi converted the winning spot-kick in San-Pedro after fellow shot-stopper Mohamed Abou Gabal had seen his kick strike the bar and fly over.

A tense last-16 clash finished 1-1 after extra time with Meschack Elia scoring on 37 minutes for DR Congo and Mostafa Mohamed equalising in first-half added time from a penalty. 

Liverpool star Salah was injured in a group match against Ghana and returned to his club, who said he would probably only be able to return to the tournament if Egypt reached the final. 

DR Congo will face Guinea, last-gasp 1-0 winners over Equatorial Guinea earlier on Sunday, next Friday in Abidjan for a place in the semi-finals.

Egypt and DR Congo may between them have won nine of the previous 33 Cup of Nations tournaments, but neither country managed even one victory in the group stage in the Ivory Coast this month.

They finished runners-up to Cape Verde and Morocco respectively in mini-leagues with identical records of three draws and three points.

Where they differed was in the number of goals scored with Egypt netting six times, including three from France-based Mohamed, and DR Congo only twice.

This was the fifth AFCON clash between the countries from 1970 with the Pharaohs defeating the Leopards three times and losing once ahead of the showdown in the west Ivorian coastal city.

Controversial goal

Notable absentees through injuries were Egyptian Mohamed el Shenawy, widely regarded as the best Africa-based goalkeeper, and DR Congo playmaker Gael Kakuta.

Egypt dominated possession in a cagey opening half until DR Congo snatched the lead with a controversial Elia goal.

DR Congo took a throw-in that Egypt claimed should have been theirs and, while the north Africans protested, Yoane Wissa crossed for Elia to nod into the net at the far post.

A VAR review confirmed the goal and the off-field officials were also involved in the Egyptian equaliser a minute into added time at the end of the first half. 

The South African referee initially waved play on after Dylan Batubinsika elbowed Egypt captain Ahmed Hegazy in the face, but awarded a penalty after reviewing the incident on the monitor.

Mohamed maintained his goal-a-game record in the Ivory Coast by sending Mpasi the wrong way as he slammed the spot-kick into the roof of the net.

DR Congo won more of the ball as the second half progressed, but even half-chances for both sides remained scarce with defences marshalled by Hegazy and Chancel Mbemba on top.  

In an attempt to bolster their attack, the Congolese replaced veteran forward Cedric Bakambu with Simon Banza, the 14-goal leading scorer in the Portuguese league this season.

With Egypt a man short after Mohamed Hamdy was sent-off, DR Congo applied constant extra-time pressure, but could not score a winning goal. 

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