Sierra Leone s forward Alhaji Kamara (R) celebrates scoring his team s second goal during the Group E Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone at Stade de Japoma in Douala on January 16, 2022. AFP
Badra Ali Sangare went to catch a ball headed back to him by a teammate in the third added minute in an attempt to prevent a corner, only for drop it into the path of Steven Caulker who squared for substitute Kamara to score.
It was a remarkable moment and one that prevented the Ivory Coast from wrapping up qualification for the last 16 there and then.
Sangare, who has taken over the gloves at this tournament because first-choice Sylvain Gbohouo was handed a doping ban, then went off injured, leaving right-back Serge Aurier to see out the match between the posts.
Before the late drama the 2015 champions appeared to have a second win in as many games in Group E sewn up thanks to Nicolas Pepe's second-half strike, but this result leaves them on four points and Sierra Leone on two.
The Elephants must still face holders Algeria, who were themselves in action later on Sunday at the same venue against Equatorial Guinea.
In an action-packed game, Franck Kessie had an early penalty for the Ivorians saved but Ajax star Sebastien Haller put them ahead and Musa Kamara made it 1-1 before Pepe struck.
Arsenal forward Pepe, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and captain Aurier all came into the Ivorian line-up as coach Patrice Beaumelle made three changes for this west African derby.
Zaha was coming up against Sierra Leone centre-back Caulker –- the duo played in the same England team in a friendly in Sweden in 2012 before later declaring for their current national teams.
Caulker excelled in his side's surprise 0-0 draw with Algeria on Tuesday but could only look on as the Ivorians won a 10th-minute penalty when Zaha was brought down by Umaru Bangura.
However, goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara had been the star player against Algeria and he produced a fine stop to deny Kessie.
Haller set up Kessie for another glorious chance that was squandered before the Ajax player –- who netted 10 times in this season's UEFA Champions League group stage –- showed him how it should be done, controlling in the box and finishing with ease.
The lively Mohamed Buya Turay came close to equalising late in the first half for the Leone Stars but they did draw level in the 55th minute.
Musa Kamara justified his inclusion in the starting line-up by controlling the ball on the edge of the area and sending a ferocious shot high into the net.
His country's first AFCON goal since 1996 was soon trumped by Pepe's strike, only for the bizarre late scenes that allowed the outsiders to earn a point.
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