Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked to have got host nation Gabon's party started at AFCON 2017, but a late Guinea Bissau equalizer spoilt the fun. The other group A game between Cameroon and Burkina Faso also finished 1-1.
Gabon 1 -1 Guinea Bissau
(Aubameyang 52 - Soares 90+1)
The Borussia Dortmund striker's tap in shortly after the break eased mounting tension at the Stade d’Angondjé after a first half in which Gabon had failed to make any significant impact.
The home side's players initially responded well to their clinical talisman's strike but soon grew nervous, allowing their opponents to grow in confidence as the second half progressed.
The visitors, who were making their tournament debut, looked increasingly like they would be unlucky losers as they missed a string of chances, notably when Frederic Mendy headed a clear chance straight at Gabon's keeper.
But as the clock ticked over in to the first minute of injury time, Juary Soares threw himself at a Zezinho cross from deep and connected sweetly with his head to leave Aubameyang cutting a disconsolate figure.
The two other teams in Group A, Cameroon and Burkina Faso, play on Saturday night in Libreville.
Cameroon 1 - 1 Burkina Faso
(Moukandjo 35 - Dayo 75')
The second game of the tournament followed a similar pattern, as Cameroon failed to hold on to a lead against Burkina Faso.
The Indomitable Lions had the upper hand in the opening skirmishes of an entertaining game and were rewarded in the 35th minute when Benjamin Moukandjo beat the otherwise impressive Herve Koffi with a whipped free kick from the edge of the box.
Clinton N'Jie, currently on loan at Marseille, missed a golden chance to give Cameroon breathing space in the second half but he missed from close range after arriving first when a shot rebounded off the crossbar.
The miss proved to be costly. Burkina Faso turned up the heat on their more illustrious opponents and were rewarded fifteen minutes from time when Issofou Dayo took advantage of some lackluster defending to nod home from close range.
The results mean all four teams in Group A are level on one point. On Wednesday, Gabon face Burkina Faso and Cameroon take on Guinea-Bissau.