Defending Africa Cup of Nations champions Zambia were held to a 1-1 draw by a courageous 10-man Ethiopia at the Mbombela Stadium on Monday evening.
The Antelopes of Ethiopia refused to give up throughout the game despite having their goalkeeper sent off in the first-half while Jemal Tassew saw his penalty saved by Kennedy Mweene.
Chipolopolo had taken the lead after all the drama through Collins Mbesuma but Adane Grima ensured that the minnows claimed a superb point.
Zambia showed their intentions early on with Stopilla Sunzu firing over just three minutes in but Ethiopia soon came into the game and went close in the 17th minute when Saladin Said went for a lob but it bounced up over the crossbar.
Christopher Katongo had a chance at the other end soon after but he nodded wide with a rushed header. That miss could have been punished when the Antelopes earned a penalty after Said was brought down by Chisamba Lungu. He dusted himself off but failed to beat Mweene who made a good save.
Katongo drilled a shot off target a minute later while Lungu lobbed a shot over Tassew but just wide. In the move, the Zambian stopper had lifted his leg dangerously though and was subsequently sent off.
Mbesuma would then open the scoring on the stroke of half-time when he collected a flick from Isaac Chansa before rifling his finish home.
Ethiopia remained positive after the interval though with Getaneh Kebede sending a long-range strike just wide. Their hard work would be rewarded in the 65th minute though when Said picked out Girma who thundered a shot just inside the near post.
Mbesuma was denied a penalty four minutes later and booked for simulation in what looked to be a decent shout while Jacob Mulenga headed a great chance over the crossbar.
Ethiopia stood firm as Zambia piled players forward in the final few minutes and grabbed a massive point in their bid to progress.