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Brazil, Switzerland advance to knockout phase

2022-12-03 HKT 05:39
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  • Cameroon's Vincent Aboubakar, (right), powers the winning header past Ederson and promptly gets himself sent off. Photo: AP
    Cameroon's Vincent Aboubakar, (right), powers the winning header past Ederson and promptly gets himself sent off. Photo: AP
A late goal by skipper Vincent Aboubakar ended Cameroon's 20-year wait for a win at the World Cup as the Indomitable Lions bowed out in style by beating a much-changed Brazil 1-0 at the Lusail Stadium on Friday.

With qualification already in the bag after wins over Serbia and Switzerland, Brazil still won Group G, ahead of Switzerland on goal difference, and will face Group H runners-up South Korea, who beat Portugal 2-1, in the next round.

Cameroon, whose last win at the World Cup was in 2002 against Saudi Arabia, were on the back foot for most of the match but sprang to life at the death. Aboubakar powered a header past Ederson then was sent off for collecting a second yellow for taking off his jersey in celebration.

The match played out in a relatively subdued atmosphere in the cavernous Lusail Stadium, the tournament's biggest venue, with Brazil's reserves eager to impress but Tite's side unable to assert their usual flair.

Gabriel Martinelli was Brazil's liveliest player and nearly put the five-time champions ahead in the 14th minute when he was picked out by Fred's ball over the top, but the Arsenal forward's header drew a fine reaction save from Devis Epassy.

Cameroon offered nearly no attacking threat until the first half injury time, when Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu's cross was met with a powerful downward header by Bryan Mbeumo that Ederson clawed away one-handed at full stretch.

Tite had seen enough and made a triple change soon after the interval, bringing on Marquinho for the injured Alex Telles, and replacing Rodrygo and Fred with Everton Ribeiro and Bruno Guimaraes.

The substitutes stirred Brazil into a sudden flurry of chances with Epassy forced into action three times in as many minutes.

First, Martinelli stung the Cameroon keeper's palms with a snap shot in the 56th minute.

Next, Eder Militao tried his luck from the ensuing corner coaxing a fumble out of the Cameroon keeper, who recoverd to scramble the ball out to safety, before the lively Antony got in on the act, forced Epassy into a diving save to keep out his curling effort.

Tite sent on Pedro in the 64th minute and Rafinha in the 79th as Brazil sought to save their perfect record in the group, but Cameroon clung on until Aboubakar arrived in the right place at the right time to seize his moment.

Meanwhile, Switzerland powered past Serbia 3-2 in their final World Cup Group G match to advance to the last 16 for the third straight time.

The win sealed second spot in the group with six points, level with group winners Brazil, and the Swiss will next face Portugal for a place in the quarter-finals.

Switzerland took the lead through Xherdan Shaqiri's deflected shot in the 20th minute, making the winger nicknamed 'the pocket rocket' the first player from his country to score at three World Cups.

Their joy only lasted six minutes with Serbia, needing a win to have any chance of progressing, scoring twice through Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic to turn the game around.

But Switzerland responded with a two goals either side of the break from Breel Embolo and Remo Freuler to prolong their stay in Qatar while eliminating the Serbs. (Reuters)