- Cameroon pulled off a famous victory over Brazil but it was not enough to reach the last-16 of the World Cup
- Vincent Aboubakar struck late on with a header and it was his final action as he was sent off for his celebration
- Cameroon used nippy fouls to break up the game and it was an attempt to disrupt Brazil’s rhythm and flow
- Brazil made nine changes as they were already through and many will go back out for their last-16 encounter
The camera swept to Neymar, as was always going to be the case. The Brazilian national anthem was in full swing and there was the golden boy, belting out the words from underneath a baseball cap as if he was ready to go to battle.
When the camera swept to him again, in injury time, he was emotional once more – but for entirely different reasons. Cameroon, through a magnificent Vincent Aboubakar header, had continued this theme of World Cup shocks and inflicted a scarcely believable defeat on the tournament favourites.
What is it about the Lusail Stadium? Argentina melted here in their first game against Saudi Arabia and now Brazil fell into the trap set by the Indomitable Lions and ended up being eaten. They are a different proposition without Neymar and everyone knows it.
Fortunately, this defeat did not cost them top spot and they will now head to Stadium 974 on Monday to tackle South Korea in the last 16 but there is no question it has rattled them and Tite, their head coach, sounded suitably anxious as he mulled this over.
‘We feel this loss,’ he said. ‘And you really must feel the loss when you have something like this. We won the first two games, so that gives us a second chance in the competition and normally you don’t get that when you lose at a World Cup. If we win together then we lose together.’
Unfortunately for Cameroon, meanwhile, this enormous scalp – not quite on a par with their victory against Argentina in 1990 but not far behind – stood for nothing. They needed a Serbia goal against Switzerland to put them through as runners-up but they must now head home.
‘My players should be congratulated,’ said head coach Rigobert Song. ‘They have shown that they should have done better in the two games before this. We gradually improved and it’s a real shame that we are going home now.’
Behind one of the goals before kick-off, a giant banner was unfurled to send a message to Pele, who is recovering after his health scare, but if Neymar continues to be absent, there will be banners for him, too. There is cautious optimism he will make it but nobody will say it for certain.
For all the pomp and colour in the stands and the enthusiasm of the tens of thousands who were dressed in yellow and green, Brazil couldn’t find a way to hammer home their superiority after enjoying oceans of possession. They would eventually pay the heaviest price.