Goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi scored the 18th penalty of a nerve-shredding shoot-out as DR Congo produced the latest shock at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations by knocking seven-time champions Egypt out to reach the quarter-finals following a 1-1 draw after extra time.
DR Congo went ahead for the first time at the finals when Meschack Elia nodded in Yoane Wissa’s cross to put the team ranked 67th in the world on course for the latest surprise result at a tournament which has been illuminated by underdog success in Ivory Coast.
Their lead lasted nine minutes before Mostafa Mohamed converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time after Ahmed Hegazi was caught by a flailing arm from Dylan Batubinsika.
Egypt finished with 10 men after left-back Mohamed Hamdy was shown a second yellow card seven minutes into extra time for a mistimed lunge on Simon Banza.
And, after Pharaohs keeper Gabaski had clipped the top of the crossbar in the ninth round of the shoot-out, Mpasi stepped up to win it 8-7 on penalties.
In the absence of injured captain Mohamed Salah, Rui Vitoria’s team ended the tournament winless and suffered the same fate as they did in the 2021 final, when they were beaten on penalties by Senegal.
An unmarked Hegazi headed an early first-half chance over from seven yards out and substitute Mahmoud Hamada lost his footing from a presentable opportunity late in normal time, but the Leopards were worthy winners and could have gone ahead sooner had the lively Elia not lashed an effort over in the third minute.
The shoot-out saw both sides miss from their second attempts, with Mohamed side-footing wide of the right-hand upright and Arthur Masuaku immediately scooping the ball over the crossbar for the Central Africans.
But Mpasi kept his composure to slot into the top right-hand corner against Gabaski, who had been a penalty-saving specialist in Egypt’s run to the final in Cameroon two years ago.
DR Congo will play Guinea in the quarter-finals at Abidjan’s Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Friday (20:00 GMT) after the Syli National beat Equatorial Guinea 1-0 earlier on Sunday.