Amadeu Masasi drilled the ball into the net deep into stoppage time to snatch a 1-1 draw for the Democratic Republic of Congo against Libya Thursday in the African Nations Championship.
The Congolese midfielder took possession outside the box on 94 minutes and gave goalkeeper Ahmed Azzaqa no chance with a shot that flew into the roof of the net.
While two-time champions DR Congo deserved the Group B draw in Cameroon’s economic capital Douala after exerting considerable second-half pressure, it was a heart-breaking climax for the gallant Libyans.
The Mediterranean Knights went ahead after only six minutes at Stade Japoma when captain Muetaz al Mehdi soared to nod a corner across the goal and into the far corner of the net.
Energetic Libya impressed on and off the ball as they defended the slender lead until Masasi became the latest midfielder to score in a tournament reserved for home-based footballers.
DR Congo suffered a series of pre-match blows when coach Florent Ibenge, goalkeepers Ley Matampi and Guy-Serge Mukumi, defender Andy Bikoko and midfielder Doxa Gikanji tested positive for coronavirus.
All were forced to self-isolate, as had five other DR Congo players before an opening round victory over neighbours Congo Brazzaville last Sunday.
Attendances at group matches have been restricted to 25 percent of the stadium capacity, with the possibility that more spectators will be permitted during the knockout phase.
The last-gasp draw kept DR Congo top of the table after two rounds with four points, Libya and Niger have two each and Congo Brazzaville one, leaving all four nations with a chance of reaching the quarter-finals.
In the final group matches this Monday, 2009 and 2016 title winners DR Congo play Niger and 2014 champions Libya meet Congo.
In the second match of the Douala double-header, Prince Mouandza put Congo Brazzaville ahead on 35 minutes and Mossi Moussa converted a 70th-minute penalty for Niger to force a 1-1 draw.
The 16-team Nations Championship kicked off five days ago after being postponed twice last year due to coronavirus.
When original hosts Ethiopia fell behind with preparations, the tournament was moved to Cameroon, where the Africa Cup of Nations will be staged next January and February on dates to be announced.
African Nations Championship Group B results at Stade Japoma in Douala on Thursday:
Democratic Republic of Congo 1 (Masasi 90+4) Libya 1 (Al Mehdi 6)
Congo Brazzaville 1 (Mouandza 35) Niger 1 (Moussa 70-pen)
Standings (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points)
DR Congo 2 1 1 0 2 1 4
Libya 2 0 2 0 1 1 2
Niger 2 0 2 0 1 1 2
Congo 2 0 1 1 1 2 1
Congo v Libya, DR Congo v Niger (both 1900 GMT)
Note: Group winners and runners-up qualify for quarter-finals