Cameroon 1-0 Brazil: Vincent Aboubakar heads in the winner but is then SENT OFF
The camera swept to Neymar, as was always going to be the case. The Brazilian national anthem was in full swing and there was the golden boy, belting out the words from underneath a baseball cap as if he was ready to go to battle.
When the camera swept to him again, in injury time, he was emotional once more – but for entirely different reasons. Cameroon, through a magnificent Vincent Aboubakar header, had continued this theme of World Cup shocks and inflicted a scarcely believable defeat on the tournament favourites.
What is it about the Lusail Stadium? Argentina melted here in their first game against Saudi Arabia and now Brazil fell into the trap set by the Indomitable Lions and ended up being eaten. They are a different proposition without Neymar and everyone knows it.
Vincent Aboubakar was the hero for Cameroon as his goal beat Brazil – but it wasn’t enough to reach the World Cup last-16
Aboubakar (left) left goalkeeper Ederson (right) planted when his header from a left-wing cross slotted into the bottom corner
Aboubakar was mobbed by his team-mates in the wild celebrations and despite being on a booking he took his shirt off
The referee wasted no time in brandishing a second yellow card to Aboubakar for taking his shirt off and he was sent off
Neymar, who is out injured and may not play again at this World Cup, tried to console frustrated team-mates at full-time
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
CAMEROON (4-2-3-1) Epassy 7: Collins 7, Wooh 8, Ebosse 8.5, Tolo 7: Kunde 7, Anguissa 7: Mbuemo 6 (Toko-Ekambi 64mins 7), Chupo-Motting 6, Ngamaleu 6: Aboubakar 7
Booked – Tolo, Kunde, Fai, Aboubakar
Manager – Rigobert Song 7
BRAZIL (4-2-3-1) Ederson 7: Dani Alves 6, Militao 6, Bremer 6, Alex Telles 6 (Marquinhos 55mins 6): Fred 6 (Guimares 55mins 5), Fabinho 5: Antony 6, Rodrygo 6 (Everton 55mins 5), Martinelli 6: Gabriel Jesus 6 (Pedro 65mins 5)
Booked – Militao
Manager – Tite 5
Referee – Ismael Elfath (United States) 6
Attendance – 85,986
Fortunately, this defeat did not cost them top spot and they will now head to Stadium 974 on Monday to tackle South Korea in the last 16 but there is no question it has rattled them and Tite, their head coach, sounded suitably anxious as he mulled this over.
‘We feel this loss,’ he said. ‘And you really must feel the loss when you have something like this. We won the first two games, so that gives us a second chance in the competition and normally you don’t get that when you lose at a World Cup. If we win together then we lose together.’
Unfortunately for Cameroon, meanwhile, this enormous scalp – not quite on a par with their victory against Argentina in 1990 but not far behind – stood for nothing. They needed a Serbia goal against Switzerland to put them through as runners-up but they must now head home.
‘My players should be congratulated,’ said head coach Rigobert Song. ‘They have shown that they should have done better in the two games before this. We gradually improved and it’s a real shame that we are going home now.’
Behind one of the goals before kick-off, a giant banner was unfurled to send a message to Pele, who is recovering after his health scare, but if Neymar continues to be absent, there will be banners for him, too. There is cautious optimism he will make it but nobody will say it for certain.
For all the pomp and colour in the stands and the enthusiasm of the tens of thousands who were dressed in yellow and green, Brazil couldn’t find a way to hammer home their superiority after enjoying oceans of possession. They would eventually pay the heaviest price.
It was a really scrappy game for much of it, with Cameroon eager to stay into the game for as long as they could on Friday
There was real concern for Brazil full-back Alex Telles (bottom) when he was forced off having landed awkwardly on his back
With qualification long since secured, this was always going to be a night when Tite made changes and so it proved with nine new faces coming into the side that had beaten Switzerland. Usually that hinders a team in terms of quality but Brazil should not have laboured.
True, the presence of Dani Alves distorts the figure slightly but, even so, it speaks volumes for a squad’s second XI when it features nine men who have won domestic titles and their combined haul is 104 major honours.
And even accounting for the veteran Alves, one of life’s more colourful souls, it was still one of the youngest sides ever selected by Brazil at a World Cup, featuring Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli, Rodrygo of Real Madrid and Manchester United’s maverick, Antony.
The curmudgeons don’t like Antony’s liking for doing ostentatious and elaborate skills but, in a challenging first period for viewers, he was happy to entertain with his first contribution being a cushioned pass after doing a step-over to receive possession.
The best chance of the first half fell to Cameroon and Brentford ace Bryan Mbeumo, but his header brought a smart save
Only problem was they faced opponents who were prepared to shut down the contest, by defending in numbers and committing fouls to halt play. Tite had been asked about this last Sunday, with regard to Neymar being targeted, but there seemed to be a specific policy adopted here.
Cameroon’s first booking came in the sixth minute for left-back Nouhou Tolo, who unceremoniously halted Antony in his tracks, and there would be further yellows for Pierre Kunde and Collins Fai after similar challenges – the latter on Rodrygo was especially cynical.
It was that kind of game. Brazil had a lot of the ball but they couldn’t find the ball to slice Cameroon open and the closest they came to a breakthrough was via Martinelli, whose header was saved by Devis Epassy in the sixth minute before the keeper turned a shot of his away in the 44th minute.
For all they prodded and probed, the irony was actually that Cameroon had the best opportunity of the lot when, on the stroke of half-time, when Brentford’s Bryan Mbuemo arrived at the back post to plant a header that appeared to be deceiving Ederson before he flicked out his hand.
It was a reality check for Brazil’s peripheral squad players but many will drop back out by the time they play in the last-16
It became all about huff and puff from there on, Brazil passing in patterns around Cameroon’s area but finding niggling challenges and green shirts in their way. One foul from Aboubakar earned a yellow card and it would have significant consequences.
Deep into injury time, he provided the ultimate sucker-punch with a marvellous header from Karl Toko Ekambi’s perfect cross and, in his joy, he ripped off his shirt to celebrate – and was promptly expelled. Up in the stands, Neymar looked bereft. How Brazil need him back.
‘We need to suffer for 24 hours,’ said Tite, the first Brazilian coach to lose to an African team. ‘Then we will start to get ready. We need to make the most of this second chance.’
Tite didn’t need to say anymore. He knows they won’t be so lucky again
RECAP: Sportsmail’s live blog for the World Cup Group G clash between Cameroon and Brazil.