The Malians and Congolese shared the spoils in their final Group B encounter, sending the Eagles through to the next round of the competition.
Goals from Congo and Anderlecht striker Dieumerci Mbokani, and Mali's Mamadou Samassa produced the stalemate, which eliminated Congo from the tournament.
A number the AFCON matches have been slow at the start, with the action peaking in the second half, and often only in the dying minutes of the encounters have goals been scored. This match was a completely different story, though, with DR Congo's Lomana LuaLua hitting the post in the first minute of the game, before Mali conceded a third-minute penalty. Mbokani converted the spot kick, giving the Congolese the lead very early on.
The Eagles respond to that strike soon after, though, and in the 15th minute Adama Tamboura sent in a tight angle cross to a confident Samassa, who equalized for his side.
The Congolese found themselves on the back foot at that stage, with Mali growing in confidence after a poor defensive start. Mali continued to push forward, but despite its hold on possession, it was only able to create a handful of decent chances, which were not converted.
Both teams were aware that the winner would advance to the quarterfinals of the competition, but neither of the two squads seemed capable of outdoing the other, and in contrast to a frantic and entertaining first few minutes, the last section of the game was scrappy.
With 10 minutes to go it seemed as though captain Seydou Keita had found a winner for Mali, but his header fell just wide of the target. In the dying minutes DR Congo had a penalty appeal, but the referee waved play on.
The result, coupled with Ghana's triumph over Niger, meant that Ghana topped Group B with Mali finishing in second. The Black Stars are set to play the Cape Verde in the quarterfinals, while the Eagles will clash with host South Africa, as the Bafana Bafana topped Group A.