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AFCON 2015: Tunisia held by Cape Verde

Cape Verde's Nuno Rocha, left, is challenged by Tunisia's Aymen Abdennour, right, during the African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match between Cape Verde and Tunisia in Ebebiyin, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

’s Nuno Rocha, left, is challenged by ’s Aymen Abdennour, right, during the African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match between and Tunisia in Ebebiyin, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

A late spot-kick by Heldon helped Cape Verde come from behind to draw 1-1 with Tunisia in the second Group B game of the ongoing 2015 African Cup of Nations played on Sunday night at the Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyín in Equatorial Guinea.

TUNISIA XI: A. Mathlouthi; A. Abdennour, S. Ben Youssef, A. Maâloul, Y. Chikhaoui, H. Nater, J. Saihi, W. Khazri, M. Manser, A. Akaïchi, H. Mathlouthi

CAPE VERDE XI: Vózinha; Fernando Varela, Gêgê, Stopira, Carlitos, Babanco, Calú, Nuno Rocha, Héldon, Djaniny, Kuca

Tunisia got the match under way at the blast of the referees whistle, but it was Cape Verde that nearly opened scoring inside the opening three minutes as Fernando Varela’s header from Babanco’s free-kick came off the post after Kuca was tripped at the edge of the box.

Tunisia responded with a chance of their own a minute later as Moncer’s header helped Akaichi break free down the left flank, but the CS Sfaxien midfielder failed to put the chance to good use, as the Cape Verdians appeared the more determined of the two sides in the opening minutes of the encounter.

Akaichi continued to trouble Cape verde from the left side, and his attempted cross in the 8th minute helped Tunisia win a corner-kick which was taken by Khazri, but did little to trouble Cape Verde who listed an entirely foreign-based squad for the Mundial.

Both sides continued to test each other for size with Babanco who suffered a minor injury setback in the 12th minute leading the onslaught for Cape Verde, while the likes of Akaichi – whose earlier challenge brought the former down – alongside Kharzi tested the Cape Verdian defence, as Vozinha was forced to make a couple of saves.

Cape Verde had a penalty appeal turned down by the referee Eric Otongo-Castane in the 37th minute after Heldon was brought down by Maaloul. In spite of protests from the Cape Verdian players, subsequent replays proved the referees decision to be right as the challenge was made at the edge of the box.

The resulting free-kick by Babanco failed to get past the wall, and Kuca failed the utilize the opportunity presented by the rebound as both teams remained tied by half-time inspite of close chances by Chikhaoui and Heldon in the 42nd and 44th minutes respectively.

Cape Verde resumed the second half with more resoluteness as they as they won two corner-kicks inside the opening two minutes of the half. Moncer however drew blood for Tunisia as he made a decent attempt from about 20-yards in the 51st minute, but he slipped as he tried to take his shot, thus gifting Vozinha an easy save.

The Cartage Eagles had a number of chances after that, with Kharzi heading straight at the keeper in the  55th minute, and Moncer slipping again in front of goal about a minute later.

On the other end, a timely block from Ben Youssef prevented prevented Kuca from scoring the opener for Cape Verde after the latter had successfully rounded Mathlouthi.

Moncer’s 64th minute freekick fell to Chikhaou whose header  unfortunately came off the crossbar. Although he scored with the rebound, the goal was surprisingly disallowed by the referee for a fowl on Cape Verde’s keeper.

Tunisia eventually took the lead in the 70th minute through Moncer who tapped in a cross from Maaloul, in a swift move that was initiated by Jamelle Saihi.

But Tunisia’s lead didn’t last long as Heldon was hacked down  inside the Tunisian box by Ben Youssef  in the 77th minute leaving the referee with no choice but to award a spotkick which was duly converted by Heldon who hit the ball powerfully to level the scores.

It was a ding-dong affair afterwards as both sides sought in vain for a winner, leaving them to share the spoils after ninety minutes of action in the second Group B game of the night.

The result sees all four teams tied on points and goal difference, after Crystal Palace’s Yannick Bolasie’s 66th minute leveler for DR Congo cancelled out Zambian Given Singluma’s 2nd minute goal in a 1-1 draw.

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