Vincent Aboubakar headed in an injury-time winner and was then sent off as Cameroon secured a memorable 1-0 victory over favorites Brazil at the World Cup on Friday, but still failed to progress to the last 16.
Aboubakar, who had joined captain Rigobert Song’s squad, connected with a cross from substitute Jerome Ngom Mbekeli to break the deadlock in the 92nd minute at Lusail Stadium in Doha.
He was booked for taking his shirt off during the wild celebrations that followed and, having already been warned, had to leave his teammates to watch the rest of the game.
They did so to record a famous win, but Switzerland’s 3-2 victory over Serbia at the same time meant the Swiss moved up from Group G along with already qualified Brazil.
After winning their first two games in Qatar, Brazil top the group and progress to a last-16 tie against South Korea when their many key players who rested for this match will return.
Coach Tite sent off a side from the second tier and the result was Brazil’s first defeat in the group stage of a World Cup since 1998, when they were beaten by Norway.
Tite’s thoughts were here on the knockout stage as he made nine changes, including giving the start to 39-year-old Dani Alves, making him Brazil’s oldest-ever international player.
The backbone of Brazil’s second-tier side still featured Manchester City’s Ederson in goal, Real Madrid’s Eder Militao in central defence, Liverpool’s Fabinho in midfield and Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus backed by Rodrygo up front.
They also had 21-year-old Gabriel Martinelli on the left and the Arsenal prospect was their standout.
He nearly scored the opening goal in the 14th minute when he jumped unmarked only to see his header bounce over the head from Cameroonian keeper Devis Epassy. Martinelli also threatened in first half stoppage time with a dribble over the edge of the penalty area and a shot that turned Epassy behind him.
It was a piece of play reminiscent of Neymar, who is still recovering from the sprained ankle that forced him out in the opening 2-0 win over Serbia, but here he watched the action from behind the Brazilian bench.
Brazilian fans, unfurling a banner with a “Get well soon” message for Pele, cheered loudly as Neymar appeared on screens in the huge stadium.
Needing a win, Cameroon nearly went in front in stoppage time of the first half when a header from Bryan Mbeumo forced a flying save from Ederson.
Brazil had won all seven previous encounters with African opponents at the World Cup, including beating Cameroon in 1994 and again in 2014, and Martinelli was their most likely source of a goal.
He forced Epassy to flip another blow that went to the top corner early in the second half, and Cameroon’s shot stopper – who continued in place of Andre Onana who was dropped for unspecified disciplinary reasons – turned a shot from Militao around the posts moments later.
Eager to study all his attacking options, Tite sent off the Flamengo duo of Everton Ribeiro and Pedro, but also saw Alex Telles go off injured in the second half.
Telles is the third Brazilian fullback, after Danilo and Alex Sandro, to be injured during the tournament.
At this rate, Alves, one year before his 40th birthday, will still be playing a role in Qatar.
Most importantly, Brazil hopes to have Neymar back soon, but it remains to be seen whether he will play against South Korea on Monday.
Aboubakar grabbed the late winner just as a goalless draw seemed the most likely outcome, and Cameroon deserves huge credit for taking four points from such a tough group, even as they go home now.
Switzerland beats Serbia in tough game
Switzerland recorded a last-16 showdown with Portugal at the World Cup on Friday after a 3-2 victory over Serbia in an ill-tempered game gave them second place in Group G.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s deflected goal put the Swiss ahead, but Aleksandar Mitrovic’s fine header put Serbia level at Stadium 974.
Dusan Vlahovic then gave Serbia the lead, after which Breel Embolo equalized before the break.
Remo Freuler’s brilliant goal early in the second half sent the Swiss through to the knockout rounds for the fourth time in five World Cups.
Bad blood marred the encounter between the teams at the 2018 tournament, as Granit Xhaka and Shaqiri celebrated goals by making pro-Kosovo gestures that enraged the Serbs.
Tempers flared in the second half on Friday after Serbia appealed for a penalty, with the stadium announcer calling for an end to “all discriminatory chants and gestures” some 15 minutes later.
Switzerland, in their own hands, almost struck within 30 seconds, but Embolo’s attempt was well blocked by Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, who snatched Xhaka’s successor.
Andrija Zivkovic of Serbia rattled from distance with a nice curling against the post and Vlahovic bundled the rebound straight into the arms of goalkeeper Gregor Kobel.
Shaqiri missed Switzerland’s 1-0 defeat to Brazil, but returned with a bang as he put his side ahead after 20 minutes.
Ricardo Rodriguez speared a cross into the box that went straight to Djibril Sow, who went to Shaqiri to sweep home through Strahinja Pavlovic’s leg for the Serbian fans.
This time there was no double eagle gesture. Instead, Shaqiri put his finger to his lips and pointed to the name on his shirt as a handful of bottles rained down.
Serbia hit back within minutes as Switzerland lost the ball in midfield, Dusan Tadic ducked in a cross for Mitrovic to meet superbly and nod into the far corner.
Shaqiri sent wide under pressure from Pavlovic after timing his run perfectly to meet Rodriguez’s striking diagonal pass, but the Swiss then suffered another lack of concentration.
They relinquished possession and Freuler watched in dismay as his attempted interception served only to save Vlahovic and roll the ball past Kobel.
But Switzerland equalized a minute before the break when Sow singled out Silvan Widmer in acres of space on the right and his driven low cross was swung in by Embolo.
The pressure of the Cameroonian-born attacker on a ponderous Pavlovic gave Switzerland the third goal immediately after the break, a brilliant team performance by Freuler.
Shaqiri wedged in a delicate ball after Embolo won it back high, and Ruben Vargas’ cushioned back heel saw Freuler pilot it in from the penalty spot.
Serbia unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty as Mitrovic fell theatrically to the ground, triggering an ugly flash point that resulted in Serbia’s reserve goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic being booked.
Substitute Christian Fassnacht turned down a late chance to calm Swiss nerves as he came clean on goal.
An inappropriate row between Xhaka and Nikola Milenkovic threatened to boil over, but eventually the Swiss crossed the line to arrange a deal with Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.