AL WAKRAH: Cameroon striker Vincent Aboubakar came off the bench to score one goal and set up another as the Indomitable Lions rescued a point in their 3-3 draw with Serbia on Monday that ended a run of eight successive World Cup losses for the African side.
The roller-coaster Group ‘G’ fixture leaves both sides on a single point from their two games, still just in contention for a last 16 place, although Cameroon must face Brazil in their final match on Friday, while Serbia take on Switzerland.
Jean-Charles Castelletto gave Cameroon the lead just before the half-hour mark, but a quick-fire double at the end of the first period from Strahinja Pavlovic and the hugely impressive Sergej Milinkovic-Savic swung the game in Serbias favour.
When Aleksandar Mitrovic added another early in the second period his side looked in complete control and cruising to a win.
But Aboubakar, who top-scored at the Africa Cup of Nations finals earlier this year, turned the game around when he came off the bench.
He netted a fine solo goal with an audacious chip over the keeper to reduce the deficit, before breaking forward and crossing to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to smash in the equaliser three minutes later.
It was Serbia who had started the brighter, however. After Mitrovic had floated a header over the bar, he struck the post when his quick footwork created a shooting chance from a tight angle.
He had another huge opportunity when Cameroon made a hash of clearing their lines and the ball fell to him eight yards out with the whole goal to aim at, but he fired wide.
Cameroon took the lead from a set-piece after Serbia had needlessly conceded a corner. Castelletto got on the end of Nicolas N’Koulous flick to tap home at the back post.
Serbia levelled in first half injury-time via a goal that was also simple in its execution. Dusan Tadic floated a free-kick into the box and Pavlovic rose highest to direct the ball into the corner of the net.
They grabbed the lead two minutes later when the Cameroon defence allowed Milinkovic-Savic time to pick his spot from the edge of the box and steered the ball into the net.
The third for Serbia was a beautifully worked that was started and finished by Mitrovic. He drove towards the Cameroon box and after a succession of passes inside the penalty area, the ball was squared by Andrija Zivkovic and the burly number nine had a simple tap-in.
That was the cue for Aboubakar to come off the bench. First he provided a perfect chip into the net for 3-2, then he beat the offside trap, raced clear and whipped over a low cross for Choupo-Moting to level the tie and keep Cameroon alive in the competition.
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2022