Second-half substitute Jim Allevinah scored for Gabon in the 88th minute to deny the Black Stars of Ghana a first win at the Nations Cup.
Ghana’s captain Andre Ayew gave the Black Stars the lead with a sumptuous finish in the 18th minute and for 70 minutes they defended that goal until Allevinah delivered his own finish to help Gabon take a share of the points and almost guarantee their passage into the second round.
A brawl ensued immediately after Algeria referee Lahlou Benbraham blew the final whistle as the Ghanaians believed they had been hard done by.
Their ire was mostly at Gabon manager, Patrice Nevue, and Andre Ayew had to be held back as he sought to accost the manager after the whistle. There was then a scuffle between both sets of players and Benjamin Tetteh was shown a post-match record for violent conduct.
Earlier in the day, Morocco confirmed their leadership of Group C, with a thoroughly convincing 2-0 win over AFCON debutants Comoros.
Selim Amallah gave the Moroccans the lead in the 17th minute and despite a penalty miss by Youssef En-Nesyri in the 83rd minute, Zakaria Aboukhlal added the second with just a minute left on the clock.
Morocco top Group C with six points; followed by Gabon with four points while Ghana are in third place with a point and their last match is against pointless Comoros. A win for the Black Stars could still see them qualify as one of the best third-place finishers even though they could still go second if Morocco beat Gabon by more than two goals and they beat Comoros.
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Other matches on Friday had Senegal fail to convince once again as they were held to a goalless draw by Guinea while the Flames of Malawi scored their first win at an AFCON tournament since 2010. They did it by coming from a goal down.
Ishmael Wadi gave the Zimbabweans the lead in the 38th minute but the Flames hit back through Gabadinho Mhango two minutes before half-time. Mhango got the winner for the Flames 13 minutes into the second half to go third in Group B.
Malawi faces Senegal on January 18, just as Guinea’ll also play Zimbabwe, who are virtually out of the tournament.