Ghana had their superstar brothers Jordan and Andre Ayew to thank for securing a berth in the AFCON semi-finals at DR Congo’s expense.
Jordan and Andre Ayew both hit the back of the net as Ghana defeated DR Congo 2-1 to secure a sixth successive Africa Cup of Nations semi-final appearance.
After weathering a first-half storm on Sunday, the Black Stars, missing injured captain Asamoah Gyan, took the lead through Aston Villa’s Jordan Ayew, only for Paul-Jose M’Poku to smash home a stunning equaliser. It was left to Jordan’s older sibling, West Ham forward Andre, to seal the victory from the penalty spot with 12 minutes to go in Oyem.
Four-time AFCON champions Ghana, defeated on penalties in the 2015 final, will face Cameroon in the last four in Franceville on Thursday as they seek to capture the continental crown for the first time since 1982, while DR Congo’s longer wait for a third title continues.
Dieumerci Mbokani nearly put DR Congo ahead after seven minutes, seizing on a defensive mix-up to race onto Joyce Lomalisa’s header and slide an attempt at goal from a tight angle, only for the post to spare the blushes of the Ghana backline.
Mbokani had the Black Stars worried again in the 25th minute, bringing down a long forward pass expertly, holding the ball up and then laying it off to Junior Kabananga, who lashed his shot over the crossbar.
With five minutes to go in the first half, Mbokani continued to lead the charge, the Hull City loanee smashing a fierce, dipping strike at Razak Brimah, which the Ghana goalkeeper held at the second attempt.
Ghana were much improved following the break, Andre Ayew making a statement of intent when he drove at goal and forced a save from Ley Matampi soon after the restart.
Matampi was called on again to block an awkward Mubarak Wakaso free-kick with his legs in the 51st minute.
And just 60 seconds later, Jordan Ayew had a decent claim for a penalty ignored when he was felled inside the area, Thomas Partey collecting the loose ball from that incident and forcing a good block from the massed ranks of the DR Congo defence.
After repeatedly going close, Ghana took a deserved lead in the 63rd minute, when Wakaso won possession just inside the opposition half and played in Jordan Ayew, who left Merveille Bokadi on the floor before steering a shot around the body of Marcel Tisserand and past the diving Matampi.
Despite having failed to threaten meaningfully since half-time, DR Congo were undeterred and burst into life in the form of M’Poku, who, released by Chancel Mbemba’s quick free-kick, found some space 30 yards from goal and launched a spectacular, swerving effort that left Razak helpless.
Ghana regained the lead 10 minutes later, when Lomalisa appeared to trip Christian Atsu inside the area, Andre Ayew coolly sending Matampi the wrong way from the spot.
DR Congo substitute Cedric Bakambu called Razak into action with a great effort as the full-time whistle approached, but Ghana ultimately held firm to book a showdown with the Indomitable Lions at Stade de Franceville.