ICYMI AFCON Day 7: All to play for as Group C tightens before the final match day

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DR Congo and Ivory Coast share the spoils as Morocco go second after dispatching Togo 3-1.

The Stade d’Oyem hosted match day 2 in Group C of the African Cup of Nations 2017 on Friday night. Defending champions Ivory Coast had a tricky clash against a spirited Democratic Republic of Congo side, while later on a wounded Morocco took on Togo in a must win clash.

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The opening game of the night began as a scintillating spectacle which saw its first goal in the 10th minute as the DRC broke the deadlock via a glorious strike from Neeskens Kebano. The Fulham player could not have hit his effort any sweeter as it zipped into the bottom corner. The early goal spurred both sides on and allowed for an enthralling end-to-end encounter as the Elephants went in search of the equaliser. Ivory Coast’s persistence eventually paid off as Wilfried Bony levelled matters in the 22nd minute. The Stoke City forward was left unmarked at a corner and made no mistake with his header.  The Leopards did not take too kindly to conceding and responded instantly through Kazakhstan-based Junior Kabananga. The Congolese striker found himself on the receiving end of a sublime cross as he steered his header home. The remaining first half minutes saw a cagier affair as both teams’ defences managed to compose themselves and stop the flow of goals.

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The second half began the way the first half ended as both teams sat back. The game, however, was sparked back into life as the Ivory Coast equalised in the 66th minute. Captain and veteran Serey Die’s deflected shot completely wrong footed DRC goalkeeper Ley Matampi . The match fizzled out once again as Florent Ibenge’s men looked content with a draw. The Ivorians pressed forward but the DRC defence held firm. With just minutes left in the game Salomon Kalou had the ball in the net but sadly for the former Chelsea player, it was ruled out for offside as both teams settled for a 2-2 draw.

In the second game of the night the sparse Gabonese crowd were treated to another exciting first half. Togo shocked their North African counterparts with only 5 minutes on the clock. Mathieu Dossevi, the French-born Togolese footballer finished off an impressive counter attack. Morocco to their credit didn’t sit back as they won a corner which led to the equaliser in the 13th minute. The Togolese keeper Agassa completely misjudged the flight of the ball which allowed St Pauli striker Aziz Bouhaddouz to head home. Togo’s inability to deal with set pieces again came back to bite as England-based midfielder Romain Saiss scored Morocco’s second goal of the night.

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The saying goes no two halves are the same and with the resumption of the second half it could not have been truer. The second half was marred by a spell of absolute boredom as both teams lacked bite. Neither team could create any meaningful opportunities on goal but with 71 minutes on the clock Youssef En-Nesyri finally gave the game a much needed spark. The Malaga forward shot from outside the box and Agassa, in the Togo goa,l was unable to make the save as the ball sailed into the net. The goal ended the game as a contest and sees the Lions of the Atlas sitting in second in the group ahead of their crunch final game against the Elephants.

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