Cameroon pulled off a memorable 1-0 upset over a largely second-string Brazil team in Lusail stadium on Friday, ending their tournament on a high note.
Rigobert Song's side became the first African team to beat Brazil at a World Cup but missed out on the last 16 due to Switzerland's 3-2 victory over Serbia. Progression already secured, tournament favorites Brazil made nine changes from their victory over the Swiss and finished top of Group G on goal difference.
Jerome Mbekeli’s superb 92nd-minute cross was met by Vincent Aboubakar, who headed past Ederson with an equally great finish for the game's only goal. Bizarrely, the Cameroonian captain was then sent off, perhaps getting caught up in the moment after his historic goal, as he received a second yellow card for taking off his jersey in celebration.
Despite late chances, Brazil could not force an equalizer, allowing the 10-man Cameroon to hold on. The defeat won’t do any favors to players trying to force their way into manager Tite’s starting 11 for the rest of the tournament. Gabirel Jesus and Alex Telles' injuries, combined with doubts over Neymar’s fitness, will leave Brazil's coach with much to ponder ahead of their last 16 clash with South Korea.
xG: Brazil 3.00 – 0.48 Cameroon
It was a wasteful performance from Brazil, as they largely controlled the game but were denied several times by Devis Epassy, who made particularly fine saves to stop Gabriel Martinelli on two occasions. Without Richarilson and Neymar, Brazil lacked a clinical edge but could consider themselves unlucky to concede to a Cameroon team that didn’t threaten much.
Man of the Match: Gabriel Martinelli, Brazil
Martinelli was Brazil's standout player. He attempted eight dribbles — a tournament high for Brazil — winning five of them for a 91.1 dribbling grade. Martinelli also posed a shooting threat, hitting the target twice en route to posting a 79.6 shooting grade. The Arsenal man rounded off his performance with one defensive line-breaking pass and also contributed a completed cross.
Best Passer: Dani Alves, Brazil
Alves staked his claim for a starting place on the day he became Brazil’s oldest-ever international, attempting 16 line-breaking passes and completing 92.2% of his passes for an 85.1 PFF passing grade.
Best Challenger: Enzo Ebosse, Cameroon
Ebosse won 64.3% of his total challenges, winning all of his three aerial duels and two of the three 50/50 challenges he was involved in. The center-back also won four of the eight tackles he was involved in and ended with a 74.0 challenge grade.
Devis Epassy had a fantastic game in Andre Onana's place, which is why he had a strong argument for being the “Man of the Match.” Undoubtedly Cameroon’s best player, he made six saves and received a 93.2 shot-stopping grade, which is the highest of the tournament so far.
Ederson had a quieter game, saving two of the three shots he faced, with Aboubakar’s header deemed unsaveable.