A late penalty from captain Andre Ayew clinched a 2-1 victory for Ghana over Congo DR and with it a meeting with Cameroon in the semifinals of the African Nations Cup.
Chances were few and far between in a goalless first half in Gabon, although Congo DR’s forward Dieumerci Mbokani hit the post in the seventh minute with a close-range effort.
The striker, who is currently on loan at Hull, missed another opportunity to break the deadlock on 36 minutes when he dragged his shot wide of the target.
Ghana came out after the interval showing more intent and, after carving out several half-chances, finally took the lead just after the hour thanks to a powerful shot from Aston Villa’s Jordan Ayew.
The lead, however, lasted just five minutes for Congo DR. Midfielder Chancel Mbemba took a short free kick and the ball sat up perfectly for Paul-Jose M’Poku to curl a sensational strike into the top-right corner from outside the box.
Both teams found added momentum going into the final quarter and Ghana were fortunate not to be down to 10 men following a dangerous-looking tackle by centre-back Daniel Amartey, who received a yellow card.
The decisive moment came with 12 minutes left on the clock when Congo DR defender Lomalisa Mutambala brought down Newcastle’s Ghanaian midfielder Christian Atsu in the penalty area and Andre Ayew stepped up to stroke the ball left-footed into the right corner of the goal.
Congo DR pushed for an equaliser late on but could not find a way to force extra time and so former Chelsea manager Avram Grant will take his team into Thursday’s last-four showdown.