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2015 Africa Nations Cup, Group Stage 2015
  • Emilio Nsue (16')
  • Thievy Bifouma (87')

Equatorial Guinea held by Congo in African Nations Cup opener

Congo netted an 87th-minute equaliser to deny host nation Equatorial Guinea victory in the opening match of the 2015 African Nations Cup in Bata.

Middlesbrough forward Emilio Nsue got the benefit of what looked a debatable offside decision to open the scoring in the 16th minute and Equatorial Guinea, by far the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, had chances to increase their lead in the second half.

However, they could not make them count and Congo deservedly drew level during a late onslaught when Thievy Bifouma slotted home an almost identical goal to Nsue -- although without any question of its legality -- as the match finished 1-1.

Congo might also have snatched a last-gasp winner but Dominique Malonga shot straight at home keeper Felipe Ovono when presented with a gilt-edged opportunity eight yards out.

A goal then would have been tough on tournament minnows Equatorial Guinea, who were worthy of at least a point from an entertaining encounter.

The 'National Thunder' made it through to the quarter-finals of the 2012 African Nations Cup after winning their opening two matches, and they were on course to start this year's edition with another victory thanks to Nsue's early strike.

Kike did well to beat his man before powering towards the area, where he threaded a ball in behind the defence for Nsue to run onto and fire a low shot under the outcoming Christopher Mafoumbi.

Congo may have felt aggrieved with Nsue appearing to be narrowly offside -- but Claude Le Roy's side would benefit from a similarly debatable call in the second half when Nsue thought he had made it 2-0.

That incident came during an Equatorial Guinea purple patch which saw Javier Balboa and Nsue both denied by Mafoumbi when clean through before Nsue saw his 70th-minute effort chalked off.

Mafoumbi rushed out of his area to try to clear the danger but he was beaten to the through-ball by Nsue, whose lob from 30 yards out bounced into the net.

However, his celebrations were cut short by another questionable offside call, although on that occasion it went against the the Spanish-born striker.

That could have decided the contest, but Congo made the most of their let-off by forcing a late leveller.

The 'Red Devils', whose best first-half chance saw Marvin Baudry's head wide after Ovono had mis-judged a looping free-kick, should have drawn level in the 83rd minute but substitute Ladislas Douniama contrived to hit the woodwork when it seemed easier to score.

Francis N'Ganga's curling free-kick cleared Ovono but Douniama, coming in behind the keeper, connected with his shoulder rather than his head and the ball came back off the far post.

It did not prove a decisive miss, though, as four minutes later Congo drew level when -- in similar fashion to Nsue's goal -- Malonga did well down the right before putting in Thievy behind the home defence and the former West Brom loan forward slotted low past Ovono.

Those same two players were then involved in what should have been a Congo winner, but Malonga was denied by Ovono after being set up by the impressive Thievy.