20 January 2013

Ghana/Congo-Kinshasa: Black Stars Surprised as Leopards Come From Behind

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix
Goal-scorers Kwadwo Asamoah of Ghana, left, and Tresor Mputu of the Democratic Republic of Congo, compete for the ball in Port Elizabeth.

DR Congo came from behind to force a deserved 2-2 draw with Ghana in a thrilling 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Group B encounter at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday.

After no goals were scored on the opening day of the continental showpiece on Saturday, fans in Port Elizabeth were treated to excellent entertainment and no shortage of incident.

Ghana looked to be cruising as they took a 2-0 lead after goals from Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Kwadwo Asamoah, but the spirited Congolese side fought back for a valuable point as Tresor Mputu and Dieumerci Mbokani grabbed second-half strikes.

DR Congo had the better of the opening stages and were inches away from taking the lead inside 15 minutes when Lomana LuaLua smashed the ball against the crossbar.

Ghana should have been ahead just before the half-hour mark when a sublime ball from Derek Boateng put Gyan through on goal, but with just goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba to beat Gyan curled his shot wide.

It was a chance he would have expected to bury and there was a sense of disbelief that he had spurned the opportunity.

But Ghana did not have to wait too much longer. Agyemang-Badu netted the first goal of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations five minutes before the break with a neat finish after great work from Kwadwo Asamoah.

And it was 2-0 five minutes after the interval as Asamoah headed home at the back post from Mubarak Wakaso's cross.

At that stage it appeared that the Black Stars would cruise home, but credit to DR Congo for showing great character to drag themselves back into the contest.

Three minutes after Ghana's second, Cedric Makiadi's excellent work teed up Mputu and the experienced forward provided a brilliant flicked finish.

And they were level on 68 minutes when Jerry Akaminko was adjudged to have pulled down Mbokani and South African referee Daniel Bennett pointed to the spot. Mbokani dusted himself off to drive the ball home.

Youssouf Mulumbu thought he had won it for the Congolese late on when his curled effort seemed destined for the bottom corner, but Ghana keeper Fatau Dauda did expertly to fling himself to his left and tip the ball round the post.

Gyan thought he had won it at the other end when his header looked as though it may have been dragged back over the goalline by Kidiaba.

Replays showed that Bennett had made the correct decision and the points were shared.

Ghana will next face Mali, the side that beat them to the bronze medal 12 months ago, while DR Congo will seek to build on this performance against minnows Niger.

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