Lesson learned: the games which look exciting are the dull ones. The ones that look dull are quickly becoming incredible. This was a brilliant game, arguably the best of the tournament so far, albeit for the wrong reasons. Cameroon became the first team eliminated from World Cup 2010 after a thrilling encounter in which both teams forgot how to defend.
Samuel Eto’o opened the scoring after just twelve minutes, completely unmarked in the penalty area after Christian Poulsen gave the ball away, smashing his finish past Thomas Sorensen. Eto’o had spent 90 minutes in the 1-0 loss to Japan stranded on the right wing and it was no surprise to see him on the scoresheet so quickly after being restored to centre-forward. Alex Song, too, took his place in defensive midfield, the Arsenal player bizarrely omitted from the Japan game by coach Paul Le Guen.
The opening goal set the tone for a first half in which Cameroon looked a completely different side to the one that seemed so bereft of ideas against Japan. They came close soon after, a wicked Emana drive just the wrong side of Sorensen’s right hand post.
Denmark drew level on 33 minutes, a marvellous ball over the top by Simon Kjaer finding Dennis Rommedahl who squared for the sliding Nicklas Bendtner to fire home. They soon added a second but keeper Hamidou smothered the ball after more fine work by Rommedahl.
Cameroon continued to press, Eto’o hitting a post with the inside of his left foot. Emana danced through the Denmark defence, Sorensen dropping his shot and the rebound going narrowly wide.
It was end to end stuff throughout the second half, too, and Cameroon had threatened several times before Rommedahl picked the ball up on the right wing, cut inside his man and curled a fine shot inside the far post with his left foot. Somehow Cameroon were behind.
Staring elimination in the face, the Indomitable Lions poured forward and would have been level but for a world-class save, Sorensen tipping Emana’s shot away low to his left. They continued to press but the Danish defence somehow held firm for three points, their only concern Kjaer’s yellow card that means he is suspended for their final game against Japan.
It is a shame that the first team eliminated from World Cup 2010 are African but Cameroon can have few complaints. Coach Paul Le Guen is surely living on borrowed time after getting his team selection so wrong against Japan in the opener, and you sense Cameroon’s players will not be fighting his corner.