Cameroon have been dumped out of the World Cup, after a comprehensive defeat against Croatia, marred by the sending off of Alex Song.
A double from Mario Mandzukic and goals from Ivica Olic and Ivan Perisic saw Croatia draw level on points with group leaders Brazil and Mexico. The Indomitable Lions had to play without star man Samuel Eto’o, but looked lively early on, with Aboubakar in particular proving dangerous.
But it wasn’t long before the overall qualities of the Croatia side shone through. Perisic pounced on a short clearance and expertly picked out Olic, who had the luxury of firing into an empty net, such was the quality of the pass.
The Croatians soon found themselves able to impose their style of play on the game. Perisic would have doubled their lead, had he not fired Mandzukic’s knock-down straight at Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje. With only a one-goal deficit, Cameroon showed more than enough flashes of talent to suggest that they may get themselves back into the match.
Yet with only five minutes left until the half-time interval, Cameroon lost Song. Their most experienced player on the pitch launched a petulant, unwarranted attack on Mandzukic after the two clashed, elbowing the Bayern Munich striker in the back.
With one of Cameroon’s most influential player adjusting the taps in the shower, the match was very much Croatia’s for the taking, and it wasn’t long before they doubled their advantage.
Perisic took advantage of a poor clearance by Itandje, picking the ball up near the half-way line, charging unopposed on the Cameroon goal and scoring past the aforementioned keeper.
Croatia could’ve had three, had Mandzukic not skewed a one-on-one effort narrowly wide. Next time round however, he wouldn’t miss, as he rose highest from a corner to head his side into a three-goal lead.
The Indomitable Lions persevered and threatened sporadically, with Aboubakar and M’bia both having speculative efforts on goal.
But soon, the match was beyond saving. Substitute Eduardo’s meek shot was saved by Cameroon’s keeper, but fell fortuitously at the feet of Mandzukic, who doubled his tally for the tournament.
Cameroon nearly gave their exuberant and loyal fans something to cheer for, as substitute Webó’s header required the swift reflexes of Pletikosa, who had remained largely untested in the Croatia goal.
Facing a fifth successive World Cup defeat and exit from the competition, tempers flared, as Assou-Ekotto squared up to team-mate Moukandjo seconds from the end.
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