Vincent Aboubakar scored the only goal to secure a famous World Cup win for Cameroon against Brazil — but was immediately sent off for a second bookable offence after whipping his shirt off in celebration.
Not long before his 92nd minute goal, Aboubakar had been shown a first yellow card for rugby tackling Gabriel Martinelli.
The Arsenal forward was Brazil’s most impressive performer in a surprising 1-0 defeat, which didn’t look on the cards until added time at the Lusail Stadium.
Tite made nine changes to his starting line-up, including bringing in Gabriel Jesus in attack at the expense of Richarlison. It was a missed opportunity for Jesus to stake a claim for the No 9 spot though and it will be no surprise if Richarlison returns for the last-16 match against South Korea next week.
Switzerland beat Serbia in the group’s other game, meaning they will play Portugal in the next round.
Michael Cox, James Horncastle, Liam Tharme and Michael Bailey analyse the key talkings points…
Why didn’t Aboubakar start the first two games?
Aboubakar put his hand in the air and smiled. He knew what was coming and didn’t appear to care.
The forward collected a second booking and so a red card, having ripped off his shirt in celebration of his dramatic winning goal and showing his name and number to the crowd.
2006 – Vincent Aboubakar is the first player to score and be sent off in a World Cup match since Zinedine Zidane vs Italy in the 2006 final. Sign-off. pic.twitter.com/GgPXI31c4R
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 2, 2022
Had Cameroon gone through, he would have missed their last-16 tie against Portugal. In the end, this victory was not enough to make it so far.
Still, once again the side known as the Indomitable Lions looked at their most likely in attack when their captain Aboubakar was on the pitch, which may mean head coach Rigobert Song could regret not starting the striker in either of their previous two Group G games.
Cameroon were losing when Aboubakar came on with 15 minutes of normal time left in their 1-0 defeat to Switzerland. Then against Serbia, Cameroon brought on Aboubakar 10 minutes into the second half, shortly after falling 3-1 behind. He scored and set up another in that 3-3 draw.
Heading into the tournament, there was a debate over whether Aboubakar or in-form Bayern Munich forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting would get the central striker role. In the end, Song found he needed to start both.
As Aboubakar flashed his brilliant header past Ederson, he may well have wished he had opted for both from the very beginning in Qatar.
Brazil’s defence finally concedes
Their free-flowing attack is rightly the focus of this Brazil side, but their defence had been exceptional this tournament. They were the first team in 24 years not to concede a shot on target in their first two games of a World Cup and it took until first-half injury time for a Brazil goalkeeeper to be tested, with Ederson showing sharp reflexes to keep out Bryan Mbeumo’s back-post header.
And there it is!
Two-and-a-half games into the #FIFAWorldCup, Brazil concede their first shot on target pic.twitter.com/d9XX64ZfCm
— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) December 2, 2022
The No 1 ranked side looked set to stroll through the groups without getting out of second gear or conceding a goal. It would have been the first time since 1986 that Brazil went through the World Cup group stage without conceding a goal.
They pressed Cameroon high at goal kicks with a front two, offering a defensive intensity that few sides have showed this tournament, and regularly forced passing errors to regain possession high upfield.
But step forward Vincent Aboubakar to head home with precision from substitute Jerome Ngom Mbekeli’s cross and blemish a perfect defensive record.
Vincent Aboubakar! 🙌🇨🇲
✅ Get the winner against Brazil in injury time
✅ Get a red card for taking your shirt off to celebrate#ITVFootball | #FIFAWorldCup pic.twitter.com/YAkGaNtKqK
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) December 2, 2022
CAMEROON SCORES 😱🇨🇲 pic.twitter.com/dvrY004pK3
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 2, 2022
It ended Brazil’s 17-match unbeaten run that stretched back to the Copa America final defeat last summer. They had won 14 games and kept 13 clean sheets, outscoring opponents 41-5.
A missed opportunity for Jesus
Tonight represented a chance for Gabriel Jesus to sow some doubt in Tite’s mind about the No 9 role.
Richarlison has made it his own and is arguably the squad’s most popular player after Neymar. It’s his to lose and the canary jersey will take some getting off him after his display against Serbia and performances for Brazil over the last year.
All the more incentive, then, for Jesus to take the chance afforded him against Cameroon. On the one hand, the nine changes Tite made to the side contributed, at times, to Brazil lacking cohesion in the final third. This was a completely new front line. But it wasn’t one Jesus is a complete stranger to, either — not with his Arsenal team-mate, Gabriel Martinelli, starting on the left side.
Scythed down early by Cameroon centre-back Christopher Wooh, Jesus knelt down to touch his ankle. He was OK, but still didn’t impact the game other than by picking the pocket of Cameroon’s deepest-lying midfield players when Rigobert Song’s side tried to build attacks.
After an hour, the Flamengo striker and Copa Libertadores top scorer, Pedro, replaced him and made his first appearance at the World Cup in Qatar. Pedro scored in the final warm-up game before the tournament against Tunisia and was selected at Roberto Firmino’s expense. He arguably arrived in Doha with more momentum than Jesus.
Overall it feels like the pecking order up front didn’t change at all tonight. Jesus now hasn’t scored in 13 games for club and country.
Evaluating the group stage…
Aboubakar’s late winner meant this World Cup narrowly avoided its seventh 0-0 draw, which would have been a record — and would also have been an unfair reflection on an excellent group stage.
We’ve witnessed remarkable comebacks, legendary shocks and an incredible amount of drama in the final round of games. Both Japan and South Korea pulled off unlikely wins over Spain and Portugal, before having to wait nervously on the pitch for the other game to end.
So, in reality, it’s been a group stage featuring more great games than usual, and more dull games than usual. The curiosity is that the great games — Saudi Arabia 2-1 Argentina, Cameroon 3-3 Serbia, Ghana 3-2 South Korea — weren’t always the ones you expected.
Aboubakar’s winner, meanwhile, also meant this became the third group where all four sides won a game. That is a much better summary of this hugely unpredictable group stage, which constantly provided late drama.
With Brazil confirmed as group winners, Tite fielded a second-string Brazil XI — just like France and Portugal had done previously. It meant that this was the first 32-team tournament in which no team took nine points from their three matches. It also meant the main interest was assessing who might play himself into the first team for the knockout stage.
And while it’s unlikely that he’ll replace Vinicius Jnr for the meeting with South Korea, Brazil’s brightest player here was arguably Gabriel Martinelli. Wearing No 26, almost hinting that he snuck into the squad at the last minute, the Arsenal forward was hugely effective throughout this game, with and without the ball.
There are more complete wide attackers in this competition. But in terms of movement from wide positions in behind the opposition, few rival Martinelli. His trademark late run on the shoulder of the right-back nearly brought an opener, when Antony cut inside and drifted the ball onto his head. Martinelli’s leap and looping header forced a fine save from Devis Epassy.
Later he showed an ability to dribble down the outside of Cameroon’s beleaguered right-back Collins Fai, who collected an early booking and was afraid to make another tackle, and in the second half he forced another fine save from Epassy when cutting inside and thumping a high shot towards goal. With 10 minutes remaining, Vincent Aboubakar practically rugby tackled him to prevent him streaking towards goal through the middle.
Martinelli is the youngest member of this Brazil squad, and feels like something of a wildcard. But in the era of five substitutes, he could prove crucial later in the competition.
(Photo: James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)
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- Brazil 0-1 Cameroon: Aboubakar scores winner but then sent off for celebration
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