Friday Mar 25, 2022. 21:26
Morocco gave themselves hope of reaching the 2022 World Cup after recovering from an early goal down to draw 1-1 with DR Congo at Stade des Martyrs on Friday evening.
The Leopards took the lead through Yoane Wissa after just 12 minutes in the first leg of their playoff qualifier, but Tarik Tissoudali stepped off the bench to level matters with 14 minutes remaining in Kinshasa.
The Atlas Lions will head into the second leg on home soil at Stade Mohammed V in four days’ time with renewed desire to reach the World Cup finals in Qatar.
The North Africans had 61 per cent of the possession in the first half with little to show for their dominance after fashioning just three attempts at goal – none of them on target.
Adam Masina dragged a left-footed shot wide of the right post from inside the box on the left in the fourth minute, while Ryan Mmaee directed a header over the crossbar from a ninth-minute corner.
The hosts needed just one chance to break the deadlock, however, when Wissa latched onto a pass from Edo Kayembe and beat Yassine Bounou with a low shot from outside the area on 12 minutes.
Christian Luyindama threatened to double their lead five minutes later from a free-kick, but could only steer his header wide of the left post.
The final chance of the half fell to Youssef En-Nesyri, who sent his header to the left of the goal from Achraf Hakimi’s cross in the 44th minute.
Wissa wasn’t far away from notching his second of the evening with an effort from inside the box on the left that went just wide of the far post in the 48th minute, before Joel Kiassumbua was finally called into action five minutes later to save a header from Mmaee.
The visitors were presented with a golden opportunity to restore parity just moments later when Cedric Bakambu handled the ball inside his own area, only for Mmaee to blaze his spot-kick over the crossbar.
Dieumerci Mbokani should perhaps have done better when he made contact with Dieumerci Amale’s cross on the hour mark, but his left-footed shot flew just past the left post from close range.
DR Congo were made to pay for that miss soon afterwards as Tissoudali, who had only been introduced from the bench a minute before, fired past Kiassumbua from inside the area after Ayoub El Kaabi headed the ball into his path.
Bounou kept the Moroccans’ hopes alive with a fine save to keep out Ben Malango’s header from Amale’s cross in the 80th minute, ensuring the tie was all-square going into the second leg.
DR Congo (1) 1 (Wissa 12′)
Morocco (0) 1 (Tissoudali 76′)
DR Congo: J. Kiassumbua, D. Amale, C. Luyindama, C. Mbemba, N. Muzinga, C. Akolo (Y. Bolasie 67′), E. Kayembe, S. Bastien, Y. Wissa (T. Bongonda 75′), C. Bakambu (M. Bokadi 88′), D. Mbokani (B. Malango 67′).
Morocco: Y. Bounou, S. Mmaee, R. Saiss, N. Aguerd, A. Hakimi, S. Amallah (S. Boufal 90′), S. Amrabat, I. Louza (F. Fajr 84′), A. Masina (S. Alakouch 84′), R. Mmaee (A. El Kaabi 71′), Y. En-Nesyri (T. Tissoudali 70′).