Croatia stays alive, eliminates Cameroon after Song red card

IvicaOlicCroatia1-Cameroon2014 (Getty)

By TIM FONTENAULT

Cameroon still had a chance to save its World Cup campaign after Croatia took an early 1-0 lead. Instead, their chance dwindled away just before halftime with the sending off of Alex Song, and Croatia piled on the goals, eliminating Cameroon from the World Cup with a 4-0 win Wednesday night.

Croatia, which lost its opening match against Brazil, remains alive but sits one point behind both Brazil and Mexico in Group A.

The Indomitable Lions came out looking primed to score an early goal, creating chance after chance in the first 10 minutes. With one counterattack by Croatia, the entire match changed.

Croatia captain Darijo Srna whipped a cross into the middle, where Mario Mandžukić was unable to direct it towards goal. Fortunately, however, the ball landed at the foot of Ivan Perišić, who quickly found Ivica Olić charging into the box and put a perfect pass to the 34-year-old’s foot. With Charles Itandje out of position, it was an easy tap in for Olic.

Cameroon would continue to press forward, trying everything they could to put a threatening strike towards goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa. As chances disappeared, frustration grew. Ultimately, frustration boiled over for Alex Song.

Song got angry when Mandžukić ran in front of him as the two players trails behind Perišić, who had just won the ball in Croatia’s defensive third. Song punched Mandžukić in the back while in full view of referee Pedro Proença, who immediately issued a red card. It marked the eighth time a Cameroon player has been sent off at the World Cup since 1990; two of those red cards were issued to Rigobert Song, Alex’s cousin, in 1994 and 1998.

It did not take long for Perišić to double the Croatian’s lead after halftime. The 25-year-old winger took matters into his own hands, sprinting forward into the box with little opposition. He caught Itandje off balance and beat him with a left-footed shot to the near post.

Thirteen minutes later, Mandžukić, the subject of many transfer rumors entering the summer window, added his name to the score sheet, turning in a thunderous header off of a corner kick played in by Danijel Pranjic. After being suspended for the opening match, Mandžukić climbed over everyone in the box and hit the ball with enough pace to get through a lot of traffic and past Itandje.

Mandžukić scored again 12 minutes later. Standing all alone at the corner of the six, Mandžukić corralled a rebound off a save by Itandje and had a wide open net in which to shoot the ball.

Croatia will likely need to win against Mexico in their final match of the Group Stage if they are to progress to the knockout stage, as Cameroon, defeated and demoralized, will end their World Cup campaign against Brazil.

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41 Responses to Croatia stays alive, eliminates Cameroon after Song red card

  1. quozzel says:

    Here’s a cool (though unlikely) scenario…what if Cameron – who is talented – pulls a shocker and upsets the Brazilians, say, 1-0 or 2-0, and Mexico and Croatia tie?

    In that case, Mexico wins the group with 5 points (1 win, 2 draws). Croatia and Brazil would then be tied at 4 points apiece…and Croatia would be carrying a +1 goal differential, while Brazil, at best, would also be carrying a +1…and the tie-breaker would then go to goals scored.

    Croatia would have, at minimum, 4 goals…and Brazil just 3.

    Brazil would be eliminated.

    Wouldn’t that be something? Definitely something to root for…after the diving and robbery-by-ref we saw in the opener.

    I think it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility, either. Brazil is NOT playing good soccer right now. They are tight, tight, tight. And Cameroon will be humiliated after that last showing, and come out with a we-have-nothing-to-lose attitude. Add to which, Mexico and Croatia seem very evenly matched….

    • atleticodemadridfan says:

      Very interesting.

    • Futbolisimo says:

      Wow, that sounds exciting, but I agree, unlikely – like the the odds of the U.S. winning the Cup.

    • Dinho says:

      Great thought, in theory.

      Here’s the reality: Cameroon’s players are already out partying. They will get dismantled by Brazil, who is playing with their backs to the wall every game…

    • Ali Dia says:

      It’s certaintly interesting… it goes back to the idea of “what happens if Brazil fails to clear the group stage?”. I’t’s not unreasonable to speculate that whatever civil unrest exists there would balloon into something much more substantial (if not dangerous) — the promise of a national celebration culiminating at the Maracana in a few weeks has been an apparent assumption of the less-than-thrilled general population there, by most all accounts I’ve come across. Weird that Mexico is the team that could cause all this mess (it’s all Zusi’s fault!).

      But to say that Brazil isn’t playing good soccer is a little overboard. They aren’t playing to their potential but they aren’t disappointing like Spain either. They could’ve put 3-4 past Mexico yesterday if not for Ochoa’s heroics and some very poor finishing. And Cameroon are a flat-out joke. Ugly. Not likely to score so much as a goal, from what I’ve seen.

      Having said that, it’s going to be very compelling. If a different Cameroon shows up somehow, and Brazil can’t get an early goal, you could be on to something. It’s becoming clear that beaing Brazil at this tournament is all about weathering the inevitable early onslaught, and feeding the self-doubt that follows. Mexico did an exceptional job here… probably a blueprint for everybody they play going forward.

      Cheers quozzel… good post.

    • Andy in Atlanta says:

      It is actually not that far fetched… for as bad as Cameroon’s scoreline looked tonight… they were owning the first 30 mins vs Croatia minus a goal against the run of play and before Song’s boneheaded red card…

      Cameroon has some hungry young players and if someone could teach them to put a shot anywhere near the goal, it is not inconceivable.

    • bryan says:

      Yup. And if Cameroon beat Brazil 1-0 and Mex/Croatia tie 0-0, Croatia has a +2 GD still while Brazil would be down to +1. Wouldn’t even have to go to the second tie breaker. That would be nuts.

    • Billy says:

      is head to head not the first tie breaker (i.e. brasil beat croatia?)

      • bryan says:

        Nah, that is the 3rd.

        GD, then goals scored, then head to head. A few more after that as well.

    • Dirk McQuigley says:

      Yes, relying on a bunch of head-butters to eliminate Brazil is definitely the wagon I want to hitch too. I hope FIFA retrospectively decides to suspend Assou Akotto (sp) for head-butting his own teammate. No wonder Cameroon always chokes. Sure the federation is corrupt, but fighting with your teammates is bush league. They are a disgrace to the Cameroon teams of 1982 and 1990. The 82 team was jobbed out of a goal on a bogus offside call against Milla in the opening match against Peru. They scored at the death to tie eventual WC winners Italy. That team didn’t lose a match, just missing on goal difference to Italy.

  2. Lorenzo says:

    How about when the Cameroon player head butted his teammate… Craziest thing I’ve ever seen at a World Cup.

    • Ian says:

      Yeah, that was an all-time low. It just added a whole other layer of embarrassment to their loss.

    • Mason says:

      He should have been sent off.

      • Mason says:

        And before someone asks: Yes, you can be sent off for Violent conduct against anybody. There’s even a few Youtubes of sendoffs for VC against animals, though that’s stretching the term “team official” a bit.

    • Dirk McQuigley says:

      They probably average a red card a match. I think at least one player was sent off against Argentina in the 1990 WC opening match, possibly two. They were just chopping down Maradona and the rest of the Argentinians.

      • DB says:

        Oh, there was definitely a sending off in that game…one of the most famous “tackles” in WC history.

        link to youtube.com

        • Mason says:

          Odd… In the video, he was shown a direct red and then a yellow. The match report shows a yellow in the 10th and a red in the 89th. Either the ref didn’t mean to caution him after he’d been sent off or he didn’t record it.

  3. KungFuSoccer says:

    So did Song or his “friends” have a bet that someone would be red carded this game? He smacked a guy right in front of the ref . . . . . for no reason. Always automatic red. Only two possibilities: the guy needs to be put in an institution or the fix is in.

    His teammates should beat him with a bag of oranges.

    • patrick says:

      then what do you say about Pepes red card? a headbutt while a guy is on the ground, in plain sight of everyone?

      • KungFuSoccer says:

        Pepe is a complete idiot also. He also barely touched the other player. An automatic red, but he was somewhat restrained. There was actually an incident of embelishment that set him off as well.

        Pepe’s was immature, inexcusable and idiotic.

        Song’s was just unfathomable.

  4. Ivan says:

    African teams are garbage. Cameroon, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria are all 3 and out. Ivory Coast is (maybe) going through. Pathetic showing.

    Why are there 5 of them in the World Cup? That’s about 3 too many.

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      Because there are 56 member nations in CAF—so ~10% get to go to World Cup.

      CONCACAF has 41—and with 3.5 slots, that’s also ~10%.

      Asia: 47 nations, 4.5 slots, thus ~10%.

      So it’s all relatively equal…until you get to the really strong confederations:

      CONMEBOL: 10 nations, 4.5 slots (45%)
      UEFA: 54 nations, 13 slots (24%)

      …or the pathetically weak:

      Oceania: 14 nations, 0.5 slots (3.5%)

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        (Of course, one also as to look at the relative competitiveness of the confederations—i.e., eliminate the tiny little minnows—but the math still works out the same.)

    • Andy in Atlanta says:

      that is a completely idiotic statement… you assume Nigeria is going out yet they have not conceded and have 1 pt after 1 match…

      Ivory Coast beat a spirited Japan team and have 5-6 excellent players that earn top dollar in Europe…

      Cameroon came out and bossed the game vs Croatia in the first 25 mins and only poor ideas in the attacking third and a stupid red card did them in

      Ghana dominated possession against the US and the goals conceded book ended what was a pretty good performance by them…

      Algeria was beating a World Cup dark horse for 70 mins… and defended extremely resolutely until Belgiums exceptional talent took over… it was nothing to be ashamed of.

    • Ali Dia says:

      The argument about Asian teams is no different, if not more compelling. Right now Asian teams have “earned” exactly two points, both of them through participation in arguably the two ugliest games in the tournament (Iran vs. Nigeria, and S. Korea vs. Russia). Japan wee deservedly beaten by Ivory Coast, and the best performances have come from the “Asian” team with 0 points from two games, Australia.

    • Dirk McQuigley says:

      Because of Ghana in 2006 and 2010 and Senegal in 2002, but not much else. Then again, wasn’t the US the last CONCACAF team to make the quarters?

  5. BrianK says:

    News flash,…Cameroon through the game. They had a dispute with their FA about money before the tournament and mailed in two pathetic performances. If you DVRd the game, focus on Cameroon,…just watch their body language. Shameful. Some organized crime ring from Singapore got to them. No doubt.

    BTW – Africa,….overrated.

    • Andy in Atlanta says:

      I watched the first 30 mins of the game a second time… I saw a team running their butts off and causing the Croatian back line a lot of trouble…. going down a man causes players to tire and goals to be conceded… watch it again.

    • Diego's Maradoughnuts says:

      News flash. Unsupportable garbage. Nobody “through” the game. Look at the salaries of the players on the field, and explain why they would posssibly ruin their reputations over whatever the Cameroon FA might have been looking for (no news about this).

      Their body language was bad because they were outclassed and losing to a very good Croatia team.

      Terrible. Just terrible.

    • bryan says:

      What?! They disputed the money they would get from winning. Why would they lose on purpose if their whole problem was with the bonus they would get from winning???

  6. KingGoogleyEye says:

    Croatia versus Cameroon uniforms = the highest concentration of pizazz in soccer

    • Mason says:

      It even looked snazzy in B&W.

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        I might be more shocked that you found a means to watch in B&W in 2014.

        • Mason says:

          Turn the color setting on your TV down to zero and you’ve got a BW TV. I’ve been doing it for every match since I read that article on why Spain was forced to wear their third kit vs NED.

          • KingGoogleyEye says:

            Hmm, interesting idea, but it probably does nothing to salvage our Bomb Pop kits.

            • Mason says:

              The Bomb Pops look dark grey over white over not-as-dark grey in BW. I imagine they’ll always be up against all-white opponents and yellow referees with black shorts/socks.

  7. Kaneesh Dubarts says:

    Animals are animals. The players from that Godforsaken country retain their instincts and always will. Education is not the answer for these ingrates.

    • Andy in Atlanta says:

      I think you are in the wrong forum…. get lost…

    • Pete says:

      Ah there it is, the first openly racist statement in the thread. A couple others danced around it but there it is. What a bunch of crap.

  8. DB says:

    The Brazil/Cameroon game is a match-fixer’s delight….just saying.