Africa Cup of Nations: DR Congo thrash Zimbabwe 4-0 to stay in contention

Cedric Bakambu (second right) scored 23 goals in 28 games in his first season with Beijing Guoan

DR Congo gave themselves a chance of qualifying for the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations with a 4-0 win over Zimbabwe.

Congo lost their first two games in Egypt but Jonathan Bolingi and Cedric Bakambu struck in the first half.

Bakambu added a penalty before substitute Britt Assombalonga improved Congo’s goal difference late on.

That saw them finish above Zimbabwe and they must wait to see if they are one of four third-placed teams to qualify.

Zimbabwe had to make a late change to their starting line-up when goalkeeper George Chigova was injured in the warm-up. His replacement was Elvis Chipezeze, their third-choice keeper, because Edmore Sibanda is also injured.

The 29-year-old only made his international debut on 5 June, with this his fourth cap, and in just the fourth minute he pushed a tame free-kick by Birmingham midfielder Jacques Maghoma on to the crossbar and Bolingi followed up to head in the rebound.

Right-back Issama Mpeko then released Bakambu and the Beijing Guoan midfielder, who moved to China last year for an African record fee, produced a composed finish to double Congo’s lead.

Zimbabwe almost pulled a goal back just before the hour mark as captain Knowledge Musona steered a low cross back towards goal and Congo keeper Ley Matampi made a fine reflex save to stop substitute Nyasha Mushekwi’s back-heel creeping into the bottom corner.

But Chipezeze then gave away a penalty as he brought down Bakambu, who sidefooted the spot-kick into the bottom corner for his 10th international goal, before Middlesbrough striker Assombalonga opened his Congo account, tapping in the rebound after Chipezeze spilled an Elia Meschak shot.

Energy, flair and fight – analysis

John Bennett, BBC World Service in Cairo:

It’s a waiting game now for DR Congo at this Cup of Nations.

The players will be nervously watching the matches over the next two days from their hotel in Cairo, hoping they’ve done enough with three points and zero goal difference to be one of the four best third-placed teams.

It was an excellent performance, full of energy, flair and fight.

You’re just left wondering where the energy, flair and fight was in the first two games, particularly the opener against Uganda when they were awful.

As for Zimbabwe, they failed to build on a promising performance in their opening match against Egypt and they never really got going against DRC. It didn’t help of course that they had a third-choice keeper in goal and he was at fault for three of the goals. A nightmare performance.

I witnessed a lovely moment after Brit Assombalonga’s first ever DRC goal. His dad was in tears with his head in his hands watching from the stands. He also played for DRC at the Cup of Nations.

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