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Sports

AFCON 2017: Ivory Coast qualification in doubt as holders held by DR Congo

Ivory Coast were twice forced to come from behind against a battling DR Congo side. Hertha Berlin's Salomon Kalou saw his late strike ruled out for offside and the holders are now sweating over reaching the quarters.

Ivory Coast 2-2 DR Congo 

(Bony 26', Serey Die 67'; Kebano 10', Kabananga 28')

Holders Ivory Coast drew for the second time at this year's African Cup of Nations as their match with the Democratic Republic of Congo finished 2-2 in Oyem to leave their hopes of qualification for the next round hanging in the balance.

After a cagey opening 10 minutes, DR Congo were first to break the deadlock. From a throw-in on the left hand side, the ball fell to Fulham midfielder Neeskens Kebano, who drilled a hard, low shot beyond the goalkeeper and into the corner of the net for his fourth international goal.

DR Congo had the best of the opening exchanges but the next big chance of the game fell to Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony. Paris St Germain's Serge Aurier crossed from the right wing but the Stoke City man put his header over the bar.

Bony did find the net five minutes later. Max Gradel swung his corner in from the left wing and Bony leaped well at the front post to head home. But the holders were level for barely two minutes. A long ball from the back split the Ivorian defense and found Firmin Ndombe Mubele, whose cross was met at the back post by an unmarked Junior Kabananga.  

Ivory Coast could have been level again within minutes of the restart but substitute Simon Deli glanced his free header wide from the edge of the six yard box. It was a miss they very nearly regretted as DR Congo goal-scorer Ndombe accelerated into the Ivory Coast box but fired his shot off the top of the bar. 

Five minutes after the hour mark, the holders were level for the second time in the match when Serey Die drove forward through a tiring midfield and hit a deflected shot past the wrong-footed Ley Matampi. 

Kalou came on for the excellent Gradel with just under a quarter of an hour to go and struck a weak free kick wide. The Hertha Berlin star then thought he had won it in injury time but the linesman's flag was correctly raised for offside as DR Congo held on to a well-deserved point. 

Morocco 3-1 Togo

(Bouhaddouz 14', Saiss 21', En-Nesyri 72'; Dossevi 5')

In Group C's other game, Morocco recorded their first win of the tournament, coming from behind to beat Togo 3-1.

Mathieu Dossevi gave Togo the lead after just five minutes with a close-range effort from inside the box but their advantage lasted less than 10 minutes before Aziz Bouhaddouz levelled the score for Morocco with a well-placed header. 

Morocco soon took the lead through a Romain Saiss header before Youssef En-Nesyri fired home from distance to wrap up the three points in the second half. 

Friday's results leave DR Congo top of Group C with 4 points, followed by Morocco on 3, holders Ivory Coast on 2 and Togo bringing up the rear on 1.

The concluding group games take place on Tuesday when Ivory Coast must take on resurgent Morocco.

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