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Live Commentary: Congo DR 1-1 Mali - as it happened

Sports Mole brings you live commentary as Congo DR and Mail compete for a place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Both Congo DR and Mali went into this clash knowing that victory would see them advance beyond Group B and into the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.

It looked as though Congo DR were going to claim that place when Dieudonne Mbokani scored from the penalty spot with just over one minute on the clock.

However, Mamadou Samassa fired Mali level before the break and in doing so, secured Mali's place in the final eight.

You can find out how the match unfolded with our minute-by-minute commentary below.

Afternoon all. We've reached crunch time over in South Africa. One of these two countries know that their Africa Cup of Nations campaign will be over by 7pm this evening.

Of course, it could so happen that both of these teams exit the competition. That will only happen if this match ends in a draw, with Niger also recording a victory over current group leaders Ghana. It all should make for an interesting 90 minutes of football.

As it stands, Mali are the favourites out of these two to advance through. They currently have three points from their opening two matches and also potentially have the draw in their favour. Meanwhile, Congo DR simply know that only a win will do. They have two points at the moment.

Right, anyway, before we get into more facts and figures - the team news from Durban is out...

CONGO DR X1: Kidiaba; Mpeko, Zakuani, Mongongu, Kasusula; Kaluyituka, Makiadi, Mulumbu, LuaLua; Diba, Mbokani

It's a must-win clash for Congo DR and they have included former Newcastle United and Portsmouth striker Lomana LuaLua in their starting lineup. Peterborough United's Gabriel Zakuani has also been handed a role in defence.

MALI X1: Samassa; Tamboura, Wague, A. Coulibaly, Diawara; Sissoko, Samba Diakite, Keita; Maiga, Sow, Samassa

It's an attacking lineup from Mali coach Patrice Carteron. He has selected Samba Sow and West Ham United's Modibo Maiga in attack. Former Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita, who has been tipped to retire from international after this tournament, will lead his side out.

Right, here come the players to a loud and colourful reception from the crowd. It's by no means full inside the Moses Mabhida Stadium, but with the noise that the supporters are making, you'd never know it.

Anthems are done and the handshakes are now taking place. This is a really big game for both nations - one that they cannot afford to lose. The bookmakers seem to favour Mali and having looked at the starting lineups, it's hard to go against that school of thought.

Here we go then - Congo DR, kicking from right to left, get this crucial clash off and running...

OFF THE POST! What a start to this clash! It's LuaLua who strikes the upright after his curling effort cannons against the base of the post, before being cleared to safety. Unlucky.


This is a mad start! Having just hit the post, seconds later Congo have a penalty. Former Liverpool midfielder Mohammed Sissoko is the culprit, tripping up Diba inside the area. That's an easy decision for the referee.

GOAL! Congo DR 1-0 Mali (Mbokani, pen)

Fair play to Mbokani because it couldn't have been easy to concentrate there. It's so early in the match but the Anderlecht striker stepped up to take the penalty and sent it into the top right hand corner of the net. The keeper had no chance.

SAVE! Sissoko attempts to make an almost immediate amends when he drills in a shot from 25 yards out. It looked to be skidding into the net until Kidiaba stepped across his line to get his body behind the ball.

A quick update from the other match in this group - Asamoah Gyan has put Ghana 1-0 up. So, as it stands, both Ghana and Congo DR are heading for the quarter-finals. Obviously there is still a lot of football to be played though. If this start is anything to go by, there is plenty more action to come!

We've had a little stoppage in play in the last couple of minutes because Cedric Makiadi went down after being winded. He's up now and is looking to return to the action. That's pleasing for Congo DR because he is one of their key players.

GOAL! Congo DR 1-1 Mali (Samassa)

Congo DR will not be happy with their defending as Mali draw themselves level. Tamboura was the creator, sending over a cross from the left byline which the Congo rearguard failed to clear. Samassa was waiting unmarked at the back post and levelled up proceedings with a neat finish inside the right hand post. Game on!

The equaliser is no more than Mali deserve if the truth be told. While they haven't created too much in the way of goalscoring chances, they reacted well to falling behind early and have kept the ball well. It will be interesting to see how the leveller changes Congo's outlook.

Queens Park Rangers fans - Samba Diakite has not changed his style of play during this tournament! LuaLua looked to turn on the halfway line, but his run was halted when your midfielder ploughed through the back of him. He's lucky not too have received a yellow card for that!

BOOKING! A Premier League footballer is the first to be booked, but surprisingly it is not Diakite! It goes to Congo DR's Youssouf Mulumbu of West Bromwich Albion for grappling with Keita. He tries to argue the decision, but I can't really work out why! He looked more like a wrestler than a footballer there.

It looks as though Ghana are going to cruise through to the final eight in the other match. They now lead Niger 2-0 thanks to a goal from Christian Atsu.

That effectively means that a draw in this encounter will see Mali through along with Ghana. Niger losing has turned this match into straight knock out. At some stage, Congo DR are going to have commit more men forward or they are heading out.

Mali are still the dominant force in this match, but they are not creating too much. They look like a team that know a draw is all they need now. It's up to Congo DR to force the issue otherwise this game is in danger of dwindling out.

BOOKING! The scoreline is 1-1 and now each team has a booking apiece. It's the same two players involved as Keita gets his name taken for pulling down Mulumbu in the centre of the pitch. It looked harsh to book the former Barcelona midfielder for that, so it may have been issued for dissent.

BOOKING! It's like London buses here! Mali now have two players on yellow cards as Samba Sow is punished for one of the most blatant shirt pulls you will ever see on LuaLua.

One player that has been disappointing so far is Mali and West Ham's Maiga. He is seen as one of his country's key players, but today he has been wasteful in possession. Perhaps that is why he has struggled to start many games for the Hammers since his summer switch.

They may have started this encounter well, but since then Congo DR have offered very little. The main plus for them is the fact that only one goal separates them from a place in the quarter-finals. It looks as though they are keen to keep things tonight until half-time though.

CHANCE! Mali should really be leading heading into the break. Keita did ever so well to cross from left for Maiga, who rose unmarked eight yards out. His header was lacking in accuracy though and flew harmlessly over the crossbar.

There will be a minimum of two minutes of stoppage time in Durban...

HALF-TIME: Congo DR 1-1 Mali

Well, it was a half that threatened to burst into life at times, but never really did. That perhaps has something to do with the importance that is riding on the result. After all, the loser goes out.

The loser as it stands is Congo DR - even though the score is 1-1. A draw is no good to them. Their coach Claude Le Roy will probably not be a happy man - he certainly didn't look it as he headed down the tunnel just a moment ago. His side started brilliantly by scoring an early penalty, but since then have struggled to create any chances. If it stays this way, they are heading out.

In contrast, Mali are heading for the quarter-finals at this moment in time. They deserve to be as well. They've been the dominant force and have had a couple of opportunities to take the lead. Knowing that a draw is enough, it will be interesting to see if they go for more goals after the restart.

BBC Sport's Lee Smith has posted this on Twitter:

"Half time in Durban and the best 45 mins I've seen so far - two evenly matched teams fighting for the right to face South Africa. DR Congo 1 Mali 1."

Finding it hard to agree with Lee if I'm being totally honest. There can be no denying the effort that has been on show, but at times there has been very little happening with goalscoring chances hard to come by.

Incidentally, which ever of these two nations wins through, they will take on hosts South Africa in the quarter-finals. The home team have been impressive so far and have reached the last eight as winners of Group A. Both will need to play better than they have today if they are to knock them out.

SUBSTITUTION: There's been a half-time switch by Congo DR as LuaLua is removed and replaced by the attack-minded Tresor Mputu. It's a positive change by LeRoy.

With Mputu on the pitch, Mali get the second half off and running...

Ghana are now over the hills and far away in the other match. They have gone 3-0 up against Niger thanks to Rennes defender John Boye. The Black Stars will advance on seven points and meet Cape Verde in the next round.

BOOKING! Third yellow card of the match for Ghana as Adama Tamboura is punished for dragging Kaluyituka to the ground. The two teams are certainly not against giving away a foul if an attack is looking dangerous!

Very little happening at the moment. As expected, Mali are content to sit back and keep the ball whenever the opportunity arises. They only need a draw and it is showing. There's got to come a point where Congo DR become more adventurous. There's little point in going out with a whimper.

Mali appeal for a free kick on the edge of the box as Sow hits the deck following two challenges. Replays show that the winger was fouled on both occasions, but the referee is having none of it. Sow looks a little perplexed by that!

BOOKING! Good stuff from the referee as he issues a yellow card to Mali goalkeeper Samassa for time wasting. There's still over 25 minutes left, surely Mali should be going for the second goal to rubber-stamp their place in the quarters.

SAVE! Congo DR goalkeeper Kidiaba is a lucky, lucky man. You could have thrown you're hat on Samassa's shot from the edge of the area, but Kidiaba gets it all wrong and the ball skids just beyond the post via his hands. That nearly ended his nation's chances of getting through.

SAVE! Mulumbu is not known as a midfielder who can score goals, but the Congo DR midfielder almost delivered just now. The West Brom player drilled in a low shot from distance, but Samassa flicked out his hand to turn the ball around the post. So close.

SUBSTITUTION: It's game over as far as Mali's Sissoko is concerned - he has been stretchered off with what looks like a knee injury. Mohamed Kalilou Traore has come on in his place.

Now Congo DR are beginning to turn the screw. They are spending a lot more time in the Mali half and have won a succession of corners. They may have come to nothing, but at least it is a sign of intent.

BOOKING! Booking for Congo DR as Makiadi halts Traore's run with a body-check. There's no arguing with that decision. The easiest booking the referee has had to dish out all day.

SUBSTITUTION: Both sides make a change as Deo Kanda comes on in place of Kaluyituka for Congo DR, while the imposing figure of Mali's Cheick Diabate replaces goalscorer Samassa.

OFF THE POST! Twice! Traore was millimetres away from securing Mali's spot in the quarter-finals as he headed Keita's corner against the post. Then, seconds later, Diabate rounds Kidiaba, but the angle was narrow and he struck the outside of the post. Congo DR live to fight another day, just!

BOOKING! Substitute Traore goes into the book for a challenge that he committed on Kaluyituka. It's a harsh decision to be fair because the Mali midfielder looked to have got some of the ball.

SUBSTITUTION: QPR's Diakite is given a rest by the Mali management and his place is handed to Sigamary Diarra. It was a relatively quiet outing for Diakite, who appeared to be hampered by the yellow card that he received earlier in the encounter.

Congo DR have four minutes of stoppage time to salvage their place in this year's Africa Cup of Nations.

SAVE! Almost game over as Keita waltzed into the Congo DR area, but his lofted shot was saved by the body of Kidiaba. Two minutes now for his side to score a winner and keep their slot in the tournament.

FULL TIME: Congo DR 1-1 Mali - Mali qualify for the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations

It was by no means pretty, but Mali have made it through to the final eight. They were the better side for most of the clash and certainly didn't deserve to lose. They will now play hosts South Africa for a place in the semi-finals on Saturday night.

It's a disappointing exit for Congo DR, because they didn't taste defeat once from their three matches. They also didn't do enough after the break to win this one. That will be a bit of a let down for their fans because they knew from the first whistle what was required to advance through.

That's all we have time for from Durban. Thanks for joining us this evening and be sure to return tomorrow as we bring you live coverage of the conclusion of Group C.

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Congo DR's Dieudonne Mbokani celebrates after converting a penalty to level the score against Ghana on January 20, 2013
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