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Brazil lose first World Cup group league game this century, qualify as group toppers

Brazil lost a World Cup group stage match for the first time this century. After Norway beat them on June 23, 1998, that has not happened. Vincent Aboubakar’s brilliant header in the 90+3 minute for Cameroon was also the first time Brazil lost to an African team. On a booking, Aboubakar’s shirt-off celebration meant a red card but Cameron hung on.

Near the media tribune a man in a Neymar Jr shirt held up a Samiel Eto’o shirt and waved. It was that kind of a night. True, the abuses came every time Brazil missed a chance but people, sure that the match would end 0-0, were also seen leaving before time.

The result, coming against the run of play when Karl Toko Ekambi found Aboubakar with a delivery that was met with a header so good that Ederson in Brazil goal couldn’t move, didn’t, however, help Cameroon progress because Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 to finish second in Group G.

Brazil will play South Korea and Portugal take on Switzerland in the round of 16.

Without nine who started against Switzerland and Neymar Jr in the stands wearing a cap back to front, Brazil had 14 shots in goal, four of them on target. Even if it wasn’t intended that way, this was some statement to the rest of the World Cup about the strength in depth of this squad in search of a sixth World Cup title. By the 55th minute, Fred, one of the two starters against Switzerland, had finished for the night leaving Eder Militao as the only player who had begun the second game.

Among those getting a first World Cup start were Antony and Ederson, first team players on the red and blue sides of Manchester. After spending 45 minutes admiring the Lusail architecture, Ederson did well to keep out a Bryan Mbuemo header which the Cameroon right-side forward had bounced into the ground. Cameroon’s first look on goal came after a neat move involving Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and left-side forward Moumi Ngamelu.

By then, Brazil had raided Devis Epassy’s goal so often that he must have been relieved to get a half-time break. That came soon after he had tipped over Gabriel Martinell’s shot, the Brazil midfielder having gone on a sideways runs towards the dee before firing. It looked to be climbing high anyway but with Brazil in the building, you don’t take chances. Especially after, having nearly paid for lingering on the ball – doing things that Cameroon coach Rigobert Song does not want – because Martinelli had got in.

Martinelli couldn’t try a shot after a drive down the middle in the 38th minute but that was because Collins Fai had clipped him. Before that he had a header off a Fred delivery which Epassy cleared for another corner-kick.

Epassy continued to be used for target practice in the second half with Martinelli, Antony and then Bruno Guimaraes. All three led to corner-kicks and then nothing. Barring the goalie clattering into the upright and needing treatment before he could resume that is. Epassy was beaten once but Rodrygo’s attempt was cleared by a defender. Another time, the ball bounced in his area and with a clutch of Brazilians around, Epassy could only collect on his third attempt.

Cameroon had begun the second half with more purpose possibly buoyed by the Mbeumo header. Aboubakar, who had kept the campaign alive till the third game with his performance against Serbia, turned swiftly for a man of his size but couldn’t keep his shot on target. One minute into the second half, Mbuemo’s ball delivery was cleared for a corner-kick, Cameroon’s first. By then, Brazil had had six. Cameroon also got a corner-kick around the 80th minute mark after another Aboubakar attempt. A little before Jules Olivier Ntcham’s shot was saved by Ederson. And then Aboubakar scored one for Africa.

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