Cameroon stuns Brazil; South Korea reaches last 16

DOHA (AFP) — Vincent Aboubakar headed in a stoppage-time winner and was then sent off as Cameroon claimed a memorable 1-0 victory over favorite Brazil at the World Cup on Friday, Dec. 2, but still failed to go through to the last 16.

Cameroon's forward Vincent Aboubakar (left) scores his team's first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G football match between Cameroon and Brazil at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on December 2, 2022. (AFP)

Aboubakar, who had come in to captain Rigobert Song's team, connected with a cross from substitute Jerome Ngom Mbekeli to break the deadlock in the 92nd minute at Doha's Lusail Stadium.

He was booked for removing his shirt in the wild celebrations that followed and, having already been cautioned, had to leave his teammates to see out the remainder of the game.

They did so to record a famous win but Switzerland's 3-2 win over Serbia at the same time meant the Swiss advanced from Group G along with already-qualified Brazil.

Having won their first two matches in Qatar, Brazil topped the group and advance to a last-16 tie against South Korea when their many key players who were rested for this game will return.

Coach Tite sent out a second-string side and the result was Brazil's first defeat in the group stage of a World Cup since 1998, when they were beaten by Norway.

Martinelli impresses

Tite's mind was on the knockout stage here as he made nine changes, including handing a start to 39-year-old Dani Alves, making him Brazil's oldest ever men's international player.

The spine of Brazil's second-string side still featured Manchester City's Ederson in goal, Real Madrid's Eder Militao in central defense, Fabinho of Liverpool in midfield, and Gabriel Jesus of Arsenal supported by Rodrygo up front.

They also had the 21-year-old Gabriel Martinelli on the left and the Arsenal prospect was their standout performer.

He almost scored the opening goal in the 14th minute when he leapt unmarked but saw his header tipped over by Cameroon 'keeper Devis Epassy. Martinelli also threatened in first-half stoppage time with a dribble across the edge of the area and a shot that Epassy turned behind.

It was a piece of play reminiscent of Neymar, who is still recovering from the sprained ankle that forced him off in the opening 2-0 win over Serbia but watched the action here from just behind the Brazilian bench.

The Brazil fans, who unfurled a banner with a "Get Well Soon" message for Pele, cheered loudly when Neymar appeared on screens inside the enormous stadium.

Needing a win, Cameroon almost went in front in first-half stoppage time when a Bryan Mbeumo header foced a flying save from Ederson.

Brazil had won all seven previous meetings with African opponents at the World Cup, including beating Cameroon in 1994 and again in 2014, and Martinelli was their most likely source of a goal.

He forced Epassy to tip over another strike that was arcing towards the top corner early in the second half, and the Cameroon shot-stopper -– continuing in place of Andre Onana who was dropped for unspecified disciplinary reasons -– turned a Militao shot around the post moments later.

Eager to study all his attacking options, Tite sent on the Flamengo duo of Everton Ribeiro and Pedro, but he also saw Alex Telles come off hurt in the second half.

Telles is the third Brazil full-back to succumb to injury at the tournament after Danilo and Alex Sandro.

'Tears of happiness'

Son Heung-min said he cried "tears of happiness" after South Korea scored a last-gasp winner to beat Portugal 2-1 and reach the World Cup last 16.

The Koreans appeared to be heading out of the tournament in Qatar for much of the game but Hwang Hee-chan's 91st-minute winner lifted them to second in Group H, behind Portugal.

They faced a nervous wait on the pitch for Uruguay's match against Ghana to finish. The South Americans won 2-0 but were unable to find the one goal extra they needed, going out on goals scored.

Tottenham striker Son was again not at his best and has still not scored in Qatar, but produced a brilliant assist for Hwang's winner.

After crying tears of sorrow in the last two World Cups, with South Korea eliminated in the group stage in both 2014 and 2018, finally Son was able to shed tears of joy.

"I believe these tears are tears of happiness," he said. "We waited really long for this moment and we as players believed altogether we could do this.

"There were moments when I wasn't able to do my best and I am thankful for my team-mates that they were able to cover me in the moments I wasn't able to fulfil my duties, and I'm very proud of them."

South Korea has now reached the knockout phase for only the third time in their history.