Bloemfontein - An injury time brace from Bonaventure Sokambi has lifted Gabon to a 4-2 victory over Mauritania, and ensured progression to the quarterfinals from their African Nations Championship final Group D clash at the Free State Stadium on Wednesday.
Gabon had trailed 2-1 with 25 minutes remaining, but three goals -- two in injury time -- propelled the Gabonese through to the next round.
Gabon first equalised in the 85th minute through Aaron Appindangoye, but the real fireworks lay around the corner with the Sokambi injury time brace.
With the win, Gabon topped the group on seven points, while Mauritania remained pointless in bottom spot.
The game started off in frenetic fashion, and the goals flowed.
Mauritania were first to strike in the fourth minute of the encounter.
Moulaye Khalil surged ahead of the the Gabon defence and just before entering the box, drew out keeper Yves Moto, and calmly picked his spot to make it 1-0 to Mauritania.
The lead for the men in green, however, was fleeting.
Gabon produced a flowing move down the right-hand side, and the ball was whipped into the five-yard area by Edmond Mouele, and Duval Nzembi nudged the ball home from close range to level the scores.
In the 35th minute Daniel Cousin for Gabon had Mauritania keeper Boubacar Toure well beaten from close range with a shot in the box, but his powerful strike was driven into the post, as the scores remained level.
In the 65th minute, however, Mauritania doubled their score. Khalil received the ball near the halfway line - but behind the Gabon defence -and the keeper Yves Moto came out out of his box. Moto went in for the tackle, but Khalil was able to come away with the possession, and bang the ball into an open goal and make it 2-1 to Mauritania.
Gabon finally got their equaliser in the 85th minute. A curving corner from the boot of Samson Mbingui, found the head of Appindangoye, who rose above the Mauritania defenders, and headed home the crucial second goal for Gabon.
A sublime piece of skill from Sokambi gave Gabon their third in injury time. Sokambi ran through a number of Mauritania players, and his shot from a tight angle on the edge of the area rocketed into the back of the net to give his side a 3-2 lead.
Sokambi scored his second when he scored a penalty moments later to secure the 4-2 win for Gabon.