Burkina Faso edged past 10-man Gabon to advance to the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals with a 7-6 victory on penalties after a 1-1 draw in their round-of-16 tie in Limbe.
Ismahila Ouedraogo netted the decisive kick to ensure they became the first side into the last eight after an incident-packed and energy-sapping clash.
After Burkina Faso skipper Bertrand Traore scored early, 10-man Gabon took the match into extra-time following a dramatic last-minute equaliser.
But in the end the Burkinabe held their nerve in a dramatic shootout to advance. They will take on either Nigeria or Tunisia, who meet later on Sunday.
The first goal came after Traore ran onto a defence-splitting pass from teenager Dango Ouattara to hit home with a left-footed effort from outside the penalty area in the 28th minute, as he beat the Gabon defence and the on-rushing goalkeeper, with his effort sneaking in off the post.
Burkina Faso's players celebrate after winning the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 round of 16 football match between Burkina Faso and Gabon at Limbe Omnisport Stadium in Limbe on January 23, 2022.
It made up for a penalty Traore squandered some 11 minutes earlier when he crashed his effort against the crossbar – the ninth failed penalty attempt at the tournament in Cameroon.
The penalty was conceded by Gabon centre-back Sidney Obissa, who picked up a second caution in the 67th minute for holding back an attacker and was sent off, leaving Gabon to complete almost half of the extended match down to 10.
Traore was continually threatening on the counter-attack and Ouattara also had chances on the break as Gabon were caught often as they tried to sweep forward in searching of an equaliser.
Gabonese striker Boupendza had the ball in the net four minutes before half-time but was marginally offside.
Gabon goalkeeper Jean-Noel Amonome also blocked close-in effort from Blati Toure and Adama Guira in an action-filled final 10 minutes.
Gabonese captain Bruno Ecuele Manga struck with a late equaliser, timing his run perfectly into the penalty area to power his header home and rescue his side from imminent defeat.
The match went to spot-kicks and it needed 18 penalties to settle the shootout with both sides squandering chances to win it before substitute Ouedraogo netted the winner.
Tunisia upset 10-man Nigeria to set up a quarter-final tie against Burkina Faso at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Youssef Msakni beat Super Eagles keeper Maduka Okoye with a long-range effort two minutes into the second half.
Nigeria’s task was made harder when Alex Iwobi was sent off following a video assistant referee review.
The West Africans were the only side to win all three group games in Cameroon, but were largely subdued against a Tunisia side hit by Covid-19.
Nigeria forward Umar Sadiq fired across goal and wide in injury time after Moses Simon had earlier had an effort blocked by Bechir Ben Said.
Three-time African champions Nigeria were fancied to go deep in the competition after impressing under interim coach Augustine Eguavoen against Egypt, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau.
Tunisia, meanwhile, had lost twice in the group stage – including to debutants The Gambia – and were without coach Mondher Kebaier and a host of players after positive tests for coronavirus.
Influential captain Wahbi Khazri was only fit enough to take his place among the substitutes but the North Africans had the best chance in the first half in Garoua, as defender Montassar Talbi had an effort cleared off the line.
Nigeria offered little in reply as Wilfred Ndidi sent a bicycle kick wide and Joe Aribo had a shot blocked behind.
Msakni caught out Okoye, who has signed for Watford but is on loan at Sparta Rotterdam, with a low effort from almost 30 yards to break the deadlock soon after the restart.
The shot went past two Nigeria defenders before swerving and bouncing in front of Okoye, who got his outstretched left hand to the ball but could not keep the strike out.
Iwobi was sent on as a 59th-minute substitute but was dismissed just seven minutes later after catching Msakni on the top of the ankle with his studs – even though the Everton midfielder had appeared incredulous when initially shown yellow.
Tunisia midfielder Naim Sliti had a curling effort saved while Nigeria struggled to create chances as the Carthage Eagles sat back and soaked up pressure to complete victory.
Eguavoen is set to be replaced by Jose Peseiro as Super Eagles coach and the Portuguese’s first task will be to navigate a two-legged World Cup 2022 play-off against fierce West African rivals Ghana.