Zambia striker Barbra Banda became the first woman to score back-to-back hat-tricks at the same Olympics as the Shepolopolo drew 4-4 with China in their second match at Tokyo 2020.
Zambia, who are the only African team competing in women's football, came back from 3-1 down to be 4-3 up, only for a controversial penalty to rob them of their first win at the tournament.
China's Wang Shuang scored all four of her country's goals - coincidentally also making it the second time in two matches that a single player has scored four times against Zambia after Vivienne Miedema did it for the Netherlands in the riotous Group F opening match.
Wang was in scintillating form in the first half and notched her first after just six minutes, but Zambia equalised on the quarter-hour mark through midfielder Racheal Kundananji.
But two goals in two minutes by Wang midway through the first half suggested China - who were abject in a 5-0 opening defeat to Brazil - were on course for a much-needed boost.
Things turned, however, when Zambia got a penalty just before half-time, which Banda slotted coolly home with her right foot.
Then just after break she equalised, and the momentum stayed with Zambia until Banda got her third and their fourth on 69 minutes.
But China then got their own late penalty, which Wang converted, to leave the teams on a point each at the bottom of Group F.
Africans in action
Other African teams involved on the official Day 1 of the Games included South Africa's men's hockey team, who lost 3-1 to Great Britain.
And Algeria's Akram Bounabi lost to Japan's Kaito Streets in the men's Sabre fencing competition.
National champion Bounabi had attracted a lot of neutral's sympathy before the games as his family was devastated by Covid - he had lost his father and three grandparents to the virus in the space of two months.