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Ghana outwit DRC to reach sixth consecutive Cup of Nations semi-final
Goals from the Ayew brothers, Jordan and André, either side of a sumptuous strike from Paul-Jose M'poku sent Ghana into the semi-finals at the Cup of Nations for the sixth consecutive tournament.
It was 0-0 at half-time. A barely credible scoreline after Democratic Republic of Congo had created and squandered a plethora of good chances. Dieudonne Mbokani and Junior Kabananga were the worst culprits.
“We didn’t score after applying so much pressure. And when that happens you forget your blocks and leave spaces open, said DRC coach Florent Ibenge.
“I told the players that we’d had the best of the first half and that the second half wouldn’t be the same.”
The 55-year-old’s prediction came true. With Ghana’s thrusts creating panic in the Congolese defence, Jordan Ayew latched onto a poor clearance mid way through the second period and from 20 metres swept the ball past the DRC goalkeeper Matampi Ley.
Within five minutes, it was all square. A free kick was taken before the Ghana defence could organise, M'poku strode on unchallenged and lashed home from 25 metres. Ghana were rattled but it was the Congolese who erred. Lomalisa Mutambala allowed Christian Atsu to get past him on the right and in the panic hauled him down in the penalty area. André Ayew, skipper in the absence of Asamoah Gyan, converted.
“We lost to Ghana,” said Ibenge. “It wasn’t against a nonentity team. We came third at the Cup of Nations in 2015 and they came second. We’re disappointed but we’ve learned something.”
Midfielder Neeskens Kebano added: “Even when we were pressing for the second equaliser, you could see how calm they were. There’s a lot of experience in their side. We don’t have that yet but we’re getting there.”