Zambia captain Barbra Banda became the first woman to score back-to-back hat-tricks at the same Olympics in her side’s thrilling 4-4 draw with China.
Zambia, the only African team competing in women’s football, came from 3-1 down to lead 4-3, only for a controversial late penalty denying them a memorable first Group F win.
Striker Banda, 21, also scored a treble in their 10-3 loss to the Netherlands.
China’s Wang Shuang claimed all four of her country’s goals.
It was also the second successive game where a single player has scored four times against Zambia after Vivienne Miedema achieved the feat for the Netherlands in a riotous opening match.
Wang was in scintillating form in the first half and notched her first after just six minutes, but Zambia equalised through midfielder Racheal Kundananji.
But two goals in two minutes by Wang suggested China – abject in a 5-0 opening-game defeat to Brazil – were on course for a much-needed victory.
The game changed when Zambia got a penalty just before half-time and Banda slotted home.
She then took centre stage with another two fine goals to put her side ahead.
But China levelled in the 84th minute when Lushomo Mweemba handled in the box and Wang converted.
China finished with 10 players when Li Qingtong was sent off for a straight red card as she denied Banda a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Africans in action
Other African teams involved on the first official day of the Games included South Africa’s men’s hockey team, who were beaten 3-1 by Great Britain.
Algeria’s Akram Bounabi lost to Japan’s Kaito Streets in the men’s Sabre fencing competition.
National champion Bounabi had attracted sympathy and support from neutrals after he lost his father and three grandparents to Covid-19 in two months.