Brazil tops Group G despite dramatic loss to Cameroon

Martin Rickett - PA Images / PA Images / Getty

LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — Vincent Aboubakar scored two minutes into stoppage time as Cameroon handed Brazil its first group-stage loss at the World Cup in 24 years Friday — a result that still allowed the five-time champions to win the group and eliminated the Africans.

Aboubakar was sent off with a second yellow card for taking off his shirt during his celebration after sending his powerful header past Brazil goalkeeper Ederson. The Cameroon captain then threw his shirt to the ground near the corner flag and waited for his teammates as they rushed toward him.

Cameroon hadn’t won any of its last nine World Cup matches, with eight losses and a draw — against Ireland in its opening game at the 2002 tournament.

Brazil, which played with its reserves, had won 17 straight group games since a 2-1 loss to Norway in 1998 in France. It had lost only one of its last 29 group matches at the tournament.

The Selecao, which had already reached the knockout stage after victories over Serbia and Switzerland, will face South Korea in the round of 16.

It was the 11th straight time Brazil won its World Cup group. It finished with six points, the same as Switzerland. But the South Americans had a better goal difference. The Swiss also advanced and will face Portugal. Cameroon ended with four points and Serbia had one.

Coach Tite rested nearly all of his regular starters and made 10 changes from the win against Switzerland on Monday.

Brazil was still without the injured Neymar, but the star forward was at Lusail Stadium to watch the match with his teammates.

Both teams created some good scoring chances, but couldn’t capitalize on them until Boubakar’s winner off a right-flank cross by Jerome Ngom Mbekeli, who had entered the match in the 86th.

Antony, Pedro and Gabriel Martinelli had some of the best opportunities for Brazil, while Aboubakar had already come close for Cameroon.

Brazil finally conceded an attempt on target after not having done so in the first two matches.

Cameroon, which opened with a 1-0 loss to Switzerland, had endured a small crisis after its 3-3 draw with Serbia, with goalkeeper Andre Onana being sent home for disciplinary reasons after a dispute with coach Rigobert Song.

Cameroon didn’t qualify for the last World Cup in Russia four years ago.

ALVES’ RECORD

With his start Friday, the 39-year-old Dani Alves became the oldest Brazilian to play at a World Cup, ahead of 38-year-old central defender Thiago Silva, Brazil’s captain in Qatar. Alves’ last game at a World Cup had been in the round of 16 of the 2014 tournament in Brazil. The right back was injured before the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

NEYMAR THE STAR

Neymar joined his teammates at the stadium for the first time since injuring his right ankle in Brazil’s opener against Switzerland.

He wasn’t limping as he got off the team’s bus and even played with the ball as his teammates warmed up. The crowd cheered loudly when the stadium’s big screen showed him singing the national anthem before the match. He later sat in the stands behind the bench, with fans trying to get close and take photos of him.

REMEMBERING PELÉ

Brazilian fans showed their support for soccer great Pelé, who is hospitalized in Sao Paulo with a respiratory infection.

They displayed a banner with the image of Pelé holding a soccer ball behind one of the goals, and opened a large flag with an image of the Brazil great and the words: “Pelé. Get well soon.” One fan in the stands held up a jersey with a photo of Pelé on it.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Brazil tops Group G despite dramatic loss to Cameroon
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