Serbia and Cameroon produce World Cup thriller
Serbia and Cameroon played out a pulsating World Cup encounter in Qatar which ended 3-3 and leaves both teams’ chances of reaching the knockout stages hanging by a thread.
In a helter-skelter match at Al Janoub Stadium on Monday, Serbia led 3-1 before Cameroon clawed themselves back into the game with two goals in the space of three minutes in the second half.
The result leaves both teams on one point from two games in Qatar, after Serbia lost their opening match against Brazil and the Africans suffered defeat to Switzerland.
Brazil play the Swiss later on Monday, with both teams knowing that a win would seal their spot in the knockout stages with one game to spare.
Cameroon and Serbia, however, will be aware that their hopes of reaching the last 16 depend on winning their final Group G games on Friday, when the Serbs meet Switzerland and Cameroon play Brazil.
Monday’s encounter in Al Wakrah was among the best the Qatar World Cup has produced.
After the upheaval of losing first-choice goalkeeper Andre Onana prior to kick-off following a reported dispute with manager Rigobert Song, it was Cameroon who took the lead in the 29th minute when Jean-Charles Castelletto turned the ball in at the back post following a flick-on.
Serbia flipped the game on its head in first-half injury time, first when Strahinja Pavlovic directed in a well-placed header from a Dusan Tadic cross, and then when Sergej Milinkovic-Savic stroked a superb effort into the bottom corner of Devis Epassy’s goal just over two minutes later.
According to football statisticians Opta, the quick-fire double made Serbia the first team in World Cup history to score twice in the space of first-half injury time.
It got better for Serbia eight minutes into the second half when Aleksandar Mitrovic capped a brilliant team move by sweeping the ball home.
But just as Serbia had done in the first half, Cameroon struck back twice in the space of three minutes.
Vincent Aboubakar scooped the ball over Vanja Milinkovic-Savic in the Serbian goal with a smart finish on 63 minutes which was cleared following a VAR check after suspicions of offside.
The Cameroonians were level in the 66th minute when Bayern Munich forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting slotted home following good work from Aboubakar.
Neither team was able to add to their tally in a thrilling encounter which leaves both nations desperately needing a win in the last round of group-stage games if they are to stand any chance of making the knockout stages.