• Through ... Togo players celebrate (AAP)
Togo booked its place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time after battling for a 1-1 draw in a controversial encounter with Tunisia in Nelspruit.
By
PA Sport

Source
PA Sport
31 Jan 2013 - 7:57 AM  UPDATED 4 Feb 2013 - 3:07 PM

English-born South African referee Daniel Bennett took centre stage
in a contest that saw two soft penalties awarded to Tunisia as Togo
twice saw strong spot-kick claims for turned down.

Khaled Mouelhi went from hero to villain for Tunisia, scoring its
goal from the penalty spot in the 30th minute to cancel out Serge
Gakpe's opener, only to hit the post when gifted another opportunity
from 12 yards after the break.

Togo was incensed by the referee's decisions and will feel justice
was done, with the point sufficient for it to book a meeting with
Burkina Faso in the last eight.

Togo, which came into the final round of Group D matches on level with
Tunisia on three points after defeat to Cote d'Ivoire in its opening
game was followed by a 2-0 win over Algeria, took the lead in the 13th
minute.

Emmanuel Adebayor created the goal, the Tottenham Hotspur attacker running
unchallenged from halfway and slotting the ball behind the defence for
Gakpe who finished first time into the right corner.

Tunisia equalised from a penalty awarded just before the half-hour
when Dare Nibombe was harshly ruled to have pulled down Walid Hichri as
they challenged at a corner, and Mouelhi stepped up confidently to
dispatch the spot-kick.

Togo had its first penalty appeal turned down when Adebayor got in
behind the defence in the 58th minute and went down under under the
challenge of Hichri, who got nothing of the ball.

And with 20 minutes remaining Adebayor was brought down in the area
by Tunisia goalkeeper Ben Cherifa but again referee Bennett was unmoved.

Togo's exasperation peaked with 12 minutes remaining as Saber Khelifa
ran in behind Nibombe and went to ground under minimal contact, with
three Togo players - Jonathan Ayite, Adebayor and goalkeeper Kossi
Agassa - booked for their reactions to the decision to award a penalty.

However, justice was served, in Togo's eyes at least, when Mouelhi
tried to put his penalty in the opposite corner to his first but saw the
ball come back off the post.

Tunisia might still have won it had Fakhreddine Ben Youssef managed
to turn the ball home from almost on the goal line after a scramble
in the final minute, but Agassa made an instinctive save with his feet
to seal Togo's passage to the last eight.