Cameroon 0, Croatia 4
Cameroon have crashed out of the FIFA World Cup™ after a resounding 4-0 defeat to Croatia in which they were reduced to ten men. The Indomitable Lions were second best throughout this Group A encounter in Manaus, which ended with their European opponents having boosted their hopes of vying with Brazil and Mexico for a place in the Round of 16. Croatia now know that the winner of their final group phase encounter with El Tri will advance, while Cameroon will conclude their doomed campaign against the hosts.
Niko Kovac’s side had impressed in spells against Brazil in their opening match and their class told in this encounter, with the outcome rarely in danger from the 11th minute onwards. That was when Ivica Olic, 34, became his country’s oldest World Cup goalscorer, firing home first time with his left foot after being teed up at close range by Ivan Perisic’s perfectly weighted pass.
Perisic was a dangerous and influential player throughout, and he found the net with nine minutes of the first half remaining, directing a powerful header just over. Cameroon had barely threatened at this stage and their frustration boiled over four minutes later when Alex Song earned an inevitable straight red card for a off-the-ball arm in the back of Mario Mandzukic. That show of indiscipline made an already difficult task near-impossible, and Croatia effectively moved out of sight just three minutes into the second period.
This goal was something of a personal disaster for Charles Itandje, whose botched clearance was seized upon at the halfway line by Perisic. Plenty of work remained to be done, but the Wolfsburg midfielder’s pace took him clear in the left channel and he deceived Itandje by shaping to cross and instead side-footed into the net at the keeper’s abandoned near post.
Croatia continued to dominate and Mandzukic could and should have added a third shortly after when he raced clean through only to delay his shot too long and, under pressure, scoop the ball wide. But the Bayern Munich striker would not be denied, and he completed a brace midway through the half. The first saw him rise unchallenged at corner to bullet home a downward header, while the second came about when he profited from another mistake by Itandje, who spilled a tame Eduardo shot at the feet of Croatia’s predatory No17.
The scoreline offered just reward for Kovac’s side’s overall superiority, and they will now hope to continue their free-scoring ways against a Mexico team that shut out the hosts.