BATA, Equatorial Guinea (AP) – Zambia rallied twice to draw 2-2 with Libya on Wednesday in an eventful Group A match played on a waterlogged pitch at the African Cup of Nations.
Ahmed Osman scored at the beginning of each half for Libya, side-footing into the net in the fifth minute and adding another from close range in the 47th.
Emmanuel Mayuka volleyed an equalizer in the 29th and Christopher Katongo headed Zambia level for the second time in the 54th.
The result puts Zambia in a good position to qualify for the quarterfinals with four points from two games, while Libya has just one point and is likely to be eliminated.
The match was delayed for more than an hour after a 25-minute tropical downpour, and both defenses struggled to adapt to the waterlogged surface.
Malian referee Koman Coulibaly eventually gave his approval for the match to start 75 minutes late, though that decision was questionable as the ball constantly got bogged down in the standing pools of water.
Despite losing its opening match 1-0 to Equatorial Guinea, Libya coach Marcos Paqueta made only a few changes to his lineup, bringing in Muhammad al-Maghrabi on the left and midfielder Abubakr al-Abaidy.
Zambia coach Herve Renard stuck with the starting team that beat Senegal 2-1 in its opening match.
Libya adapted to the conditions quickest to take an early lead. Walid al-Katroushi collected the ball in front of the Zambia defense and threaded a pass into the path of Osman to finish right-footed past goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
The Libya players celebrated their first goal of the tournament by falling to their knees in a line and kissing the pitch.
Zambia responded well, however, and showed the confidence surging through the team since the Senegal victory with a fine equalizer.
Rainford Kalaba floated a ball to the back post and Emmanuel Mayuka scored his second cup goal with a volley hooked back into the far corner.
Mayuka embarked on his familiar series of backflips before being joined by teammates who went down in a circle on all-fours for a curious celebration involving rolling their heads from side to side.
Renard introduced striker Collins Mbesuma for defender Francis Kasonde soon after and Zambia spent the rest of the first half on the attack, with the pace of Mayuka and Kalaba proving a constant menace.
Libya made an even quicker start to the second half. Substitute Ihaab Boussefi stole the ball on the right wing and his cross eluded two Zambia defenders to reach Osman, who fired in off a post.
Zambia again reacted positively and Mayuka was denied by Libya goalkeeper Samir Aboud's outstretched right boot in the 54th minute.
The reprieve lasted just a few seconds as Katongo leaped to head the second equalizer at the back post to spark a celebratory dance with his teammates.
With the pitch becoming increasingly difficult, both teams struggled to string passes together.
Libya had a chance when Ahmed Zuway's header at the back post in the 66th minute was hacked away, while Osman shot straight at Mweene after forcing an opportunity for himself in the 69th.
Zambia almost grasped a winner when Mayuka dribbled free in the box, but his low center across goal was bundled away by the Libya defense.
Later, Equatorial Guinea plays Senegal.