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Indomitable Lions suffer early World Cup exit as 10-man Cameroon no match for Croatia
Cameroon extended their World Cup losing streak to six games with a 4-0 loss to Croatia, extinguishing all hope of making it to the next round.
With Samuel Eto’o injured, coach Volker Finke gave Lorient striker Vincent Aboubakar a chance to step up, as well as Schalke’s Matip, who moved into the starting 11 as Djeungoue took his place on the bench.
Croatia also made a notable change with superstar Mandzukic, who missed the opener due to suspension, getting his first chance to lead the attack for his country in Brazil.
Cameroon XI: Itandje, Assou-Ekotto, Nkoulou (c), Song, Moukandjo, Aboubakar, Choupo-Moting, Chedjou, Mbia, Enoh, Matip.
Croatia XI: Pletikosa, Pranjic, Perisic, Corluka, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric, Srna (c), Mandzukic, Olic, Sammir.
Despite missing their superstar Eto’o, Cameroon came out of the gates wanting to make an early statement and keep their hopes of reaching the next round alive.
However, in the 11th minute a Darijo Srna cross was poorly cleared and fell into Ivan Perisic’s feet, who found Vfl Wolfsburg team-mate Ivica Olic to smash the ball into the back of the net.
The game picked up with both teams getting attempts on goal, but it was Olic again who had the best chance, only being a second too late before the ball was cleared out.
With three points on the line, both teams continued to battle hard, yet both were missing the quality passes to create great scoring opportunities.
Life quickly got worse for Cameroon when Alexandre Song saw a straight red card just shy of the 40th minute for an elbow on Mandzukic during a Croatian counter-attack.
Four minutes into the second-half, after a poor Itandje clearance, Perisic ran half the length of the field only to calmly put it in for the 2-0 lead. Two minute’s later, Mandzukic nearly scored the third as the ball went just wide.
Leading up to this World Cup no other player had scored more headed goals in the top 5 leagues than Mandzukic, so it was no shock when he headed in the third goal after a Croatian corner.
Croatian coach Nico Kovac ended Olic’s night by giving him a well deserved break, subbing in former Arsenal striker Eduardo in his place, while Finke subbed on Webo for Aboubakar.
Seconds after Kovacic came on for Sammir, Eduardo fired a decent shot on goal with the rebound falling right into Mandzukic for the easy tap-in to make it 4-0.
With just over ten minutes remaining Perisic received a deserved applause with Rebic taking his place. Barcelona’s new signing Ivan Rakitic nearly made it 5 with a cheeky chip that just went wide.
Cameroon’s best chance came in the 89th minute from Webo, who could only hit the crossbar.
Croatia has its fate in it’s own hand and can advance with a win over Mexico, while Cameroon head to Brasilia to face Brazil in a meaningless game for the Indomitable Lions, who’ve now lost their last 6 World Cup games.