Goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi became the hero of a thrilling penalty shootout as DR Congo caused a major upset at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. In a tense encounter, they eliminated seven-time champions Egypt to advance to the quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw in extra time.
DR Congo took the lead when Meschack Elia headed in a cross from Yoane Wissa, putting the 67th-ranked team on course for another surprise result in a tournament filled with underdog success. However, Mostafa Mohamed equalized with a penalty just before half-time after a foul by Dylan Batubinsika on Ahmed Hegazi.
Egypt ended the match with 10 men as Mohamed Hamdy received a second yellow card in extra time. The match ultimately went to a dramatic penalty shootout, with Mpasi scoring the winning penalty as DR Congo triumphed 8-7.
Without injured captain Mohamed Salah, Rui Vitoria’s team finished the tournament winless, mirroring their fate in the 2021 final when they lost on penalties to Senegal.
Despite early chances for Egypt, including a missed header by Hegazi and a late opportunity for substitute Mahmoud Hamada, DR Congo emerged as deserving winners. The quarter-finals will see DR Congo face Guinea at Abidjan’s Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Friday.
The deadlock in the knockout-stage meeting was broken with Elia’s goal, originating from a quick throw-in by Arthur Masuaku that set up Wissa’s cross. Egypt, missing Emam Ashour due to concussion and goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy due to injury, relied on Mohamed’s penalty to stay in the game.
In the second half, opportunities were limited, with both teams having few clear chances. DR Congo’s Mpasi made crucial saves, including one from Zizo’s fierce shot. Egypt’s chances further diminished when Hamdy received a red card, leaving them to defend with 10 men.
As the match headed to penalties, Mpasi proved to be the difference-maker, securing DR Congo’s victory. Despite Egypt’s past penalty-saving specialist Gabaski hitting the crossbar, the experienced contenders seemed content to play for time rather than attack.
In the end, DR Congo’s remarkable journey continues, setting the stage for an exciting quarter-final clash against Guinea.