Algeria enjoyed a 1-0 away win against Libya, in their African Nations Cup qualifier on Sunday played in neutral Casablanca, after substitute El Arbi Hillel Soudani scored two minutes from time, giving the visitors a massive advantage for the return leg.
Algeria’s pressure paid off with a cleverly worked goal for the Portugal-based striker, who has now netted five in his seven international appearances.
However, the win was marred by a mass brawl on the pitch between the two sets of players at the final whistle.
Mozambique pulled off a surprise 2-0 home win over Morocco side to give themselves a good chance of making the finals.
The home side had been given little chance when the draw was made, but goals from Miro and Domingues ensured a defendable lead for next month’s return match.
The result put further pressure on Morocco’s Belgian coach Eric Gerets, already feeling the ire of the local media and fans after a disappointing start to 2014 World Cup qualification.
Zimbabwe, another neighbor of 2013 hosts South Africa, exceeded expectations by beating Angola 3-1, while Ibrahim Yattara scored the only goal as Guinea struggled to beat visiting Niger.
Meanwhile, a second-half goal spree ensured a comfortable 4-0 win for the Democratic Republic of Congo against Equatorial Guinea and earned them an almost certain place in next year’s finals.
The victory in Kinshasa left the Congolese with a virtually insurmountable lead, with Anderlecht striker Dieumerci Mbokani scoring twice and Deo Kanda and Issama Mpeko adding the others after a goalless first half.
It was the biggest win of the 15 final-round, first-leg qualifiers played across the continent at the weekend, and should send the Congolese, winners in 1968 and 1974, back to the finals after missing the last three tournaments.