Lions fight tooth and nail in six-goal thriller
Cameroon and Serbia served up a classic at the Al-Janoub Stadium as a stunning 3-3 draw saw the Eagles become the first side in World Cup (WC) history to score twice in first-half added time.
After suffering defeat to pre-tournament favourites Brazil last time out, Serbia started with intent as Cameroon struggled to get grips with the game, and Aleksandar Mitrović was unlucky to see his curling effort smash the woodwork early on. Despite being limited by a stern Eagles side, the Indomitable Lions were undeterred and broke the deadlock with just under 30 minutes gone. A corner was flicked to the back post by Nicholas Nkoulou, and Jean-Charles Castelletto tapped home for his first international goal and Cameroon’s first in this competition since 2014.
Serbia, who topped their WC qualifying group ahead of runners-up Portugal, showed why they were fancied by some ahead of the tournament however, as they responded through a quickfire double. Towering Serbian centre-back Strahinja Pavlović powered a header past goalkeeper Devis Epassy, who was playing after André Onana was reportedly dropped for disciplinary reasons, before Sergej Milinković-Savić’s low shot hit the back of the net on the stroke of the HT whistle as Serbia fans rejoiced.
Mitrović looked like he may have sealed victory for his side shortly after the break as he tapped home from six yards for a seventh goal in his last six games for Serbia. A tournament already full of drama gave another dramatic twist though as despite looking all at sea for a considerable period, Rigobert Song’s side struck back through substitute Vincent Aboubakar on 63 minutes, who beat the offside trap and scooped a wonderful effort over Milinković-Savić.
With the tempo rising and the crowd’s chorus deafening, it felt that barely seconds had passed before Cameroon completed their comeback, with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting tapping home from Boubakar’s squared pass which stunned the Eagles and many in the Stadium. Whilst that was the final goal in a thrilling contest, the drama wasn’t finished, and despite Cameroon holding all the momentum as the game reached its conclusion, it was Mitrović who spurned the most guilt-edged opportunity before FT.
Whilst the result wasn’t ideal for Cameroon, who are looking to get out of the group stage for the first time since 1990, they’ll likely be satisfied with ending a run of eight straight losses in this competition. Meanwhile, Serbia manager Dragan Stojković must be wondering what happened after his side missed a potentially crucial opportunity.