Morocco scored early but the pre-tournament favourites had to share the points in a 1-1 draw with the Democratic Republic of Congo in their Africa Cup of Nations Group F clash on Sunday.
Achraf Hakimi scored in the sixth minute for Morocco, whose run to the semi-final of the World Cup in Qatar 14 months ago has made them the team to beat at the tournament in the Ivory Coast.
But the Congolese squandered a first half penalty before substitute Silas Katompa swept home a deserved 76th minute equaliser at the Laurent Pokou Stadium.
The result denied Morocco a chance to qualify early for the last-16 but they have four points which should be enough to progress while DR Congo have drawn their opening two matches.
Hakimi’s goal came from a corner, that was delayed for four minutes while the Kenyan referee Peter Waweru sorted out a faulty headset that would allow him to communicate with the other match officials.
Congo were caught cold when the corner was finally taken, with the ball being missed by several defenders before the Paris St Germain right back volleyed it home from close range.
There were three good chances for Morocco in a dominant opening 10 minute spell but DR Congo worked their way into the contest and had a golden opportunity for an equaliser when a VAR check showed Selim Amallah had elbowed Henock Inonga on the side of the head as the two rivals went up for a corner.
There was another lengthy delay as Inonga needed treatment on a bad cut and referee Waweru took his time deciding whether to award the penalty before handing the Congolese a chance to level the score.
But Cedric Bakambu hit a poor effort on the outside of the bottom of the upright.
Congo captain Chancel Mbemba came close from a corner soon after halftime but it took until the last quarter-hour of the game for the equaliser.
Meschack Elia pulled back the ball perfectly for Silas to time his run and equalise.
A similar cross one minute later from Elia saw some panicked defending before Morocco cleared the danger and there was another chance on the stroke of fulltime when Fiston Mayele’s shot was tipped over his own crossbar by Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
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