BATA, Equatorial Guinea, January 31 – DR Congo ended the fairytale run of neighbours Congo Brazzaville on Saturday when they came from behind to win 4-2 and qualify for the semi-finals of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Congo, who were only reinstated in the qualifying tournament of this competition after Rwanda were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player, led this battle of the Congos 2-0 before DRC fought back to win with four goals in the last 25 minutes.
Following a flat first 45 minutes in a largely deserted Estadio de Bata, this derby clash came to life after the break, with Ferebory Dore volleying Congo in front 10 minutes into the second half.
Thievy Bifouma then doubled their lead just after the hour mark, but the Leopards were back in the game on 65 minutes when Dieumerci Mbokani found the net.
Loteteka Bokila equalised with 15 minutes remaining before substitute Joel Kimwaki Mpela put Florent Ibenge’s side ahead and Mbokani then clinched the win.
The result sees DR Congo advance to the last four for the first time since 1998, while the adventure ends here for Claude Le Roy’s team.
The first half never really got going, with both sides playing with caution and at a slow pace.
Congo almost went in front just before the interval, though, when a free-kick from outside the box by the towering Dore passed just over the bar.
But, in contrast, the second half was a remarkable affair.
In the 52nd minute, Mbokani headed down for Bokila, who crashed a volley against the underside of the bar, before Congo opened the scoring at the other end moments later.
Delvin Ndinga swung a free-kick into the box and Dore got in behind his marker to volley past veteran goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba.
Bifouma then doubled the Red Devils’ lead in the 62nd minute when he latched on to a loose ball inside the area after Kidiaba had saved from Dore to grab his third goal of the tournament.
However, DR Congo pulled a goal back on 65 minutes when Mbokani was left with a simple finish following superb work by Yannick Bolasie on the left.
The Leopards now had the momentum on their side and Bokila made up for his earlier miss when he turned inside the box and fired home the equaliser.
For a short while extra time loomed, but then Kimwaki put DR Congo ahead for the first time when he rose unmarked to head home a free-kick past the stranded Christoffer Mafoumbi in goal.
And Mbokani got his brace to complete the turnaround in stoppage time as he finished after Mafoumbi had stopped his initial effort.