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Britt Assombalonga scores his first international goal & reduces proud father to tears; The Boro record buy came off the bench to score in the 4-0 win Zimbabwe.

Byline: Anthony Vickers

Proud Britt Assombalonga banged in a late goal that could see his country into the group stages of the African Cup of Nations.

The Boro striker came off the bench and notched his debut goal as Democratic Republic of Congo spanked Zimbabwe 4-0.

"What a feeling" he said on Instagram after his landmark first international strike.

The goal reduced his emotional father to tears in the stands in Cairo's 30 June Stadium.

The emphatic win has given them hope of clawing into the knockout phase as one of the four best third placed teams - but the Leopards now face an anxious wait as the other groups are concluded.

Guinea have finished their games and are on four points and are through. But two third placed teams already level with Congo on three points and two more are on two so it could come down to goal difference or a slip up elsewhere if Congo are to go through.

Britt Assombalonga scores for Democratic Republic of Congo

Assombalonga came on in first half injury time for injured Jonathan Bolingi, who had netted the opener, and played well as the Leopards took complete control and sealed the victory.

Injuries had forced Zimbabwe to field their third choice keeper and he had a nightmare that the Congolese punished.

The Boro record buy slotted through a sublime pass that led to a penalty for the third goal then got what could prove a crucial fourth in the 78th minute, tapping in the rebound after the keeper spilled a shot.

It was an emotional moment for Britt and more so for his father, Fedor, spotted in tears in the stands.

Assombalonga senior had played up front for his nation, then known as Zaire, in the 1992 finals.

Britt Assombalonga is congratulated on his goal for Democratic Republic of Congo

If the DRC make the next phase, games start on July 5. The quarter-finals are on July 10, the semis on July 14 and the final on July 19.

Boro are in a training camp in Austria this week. They return to Rockliffe next week and the first domestic warm-up game is at Gateshead on Wednesday July 10.

Even if the DRC fail to escape the group stage, given rest and recuperation time Assombalonga is unlikely to be in the mix by then.

CAPTION(S):

DR Congo's forward Britt Assombalonga in action against Uganda in the African Cup of Nations

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:6ZIMB
Date:Jul 1, 2019
Words:407
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