Cameroon struck in injury time to down Brazil while Switzerland put three past a leaky Serbian defence to win their last game of Group G. The results had no real bearing on the group though as Brazil and Switzerland both qualified for the Round-of-16. This is the third World Cup in a row where the Swiss have moved past the group stage.
Serbia had to win to qualify for the knockouts while Switzerland could afford to look at the Brazil-Cameroon result with hopes of moving on to the next round.
The Swiss drew first blood when the evergreen Xherdan Shaqiri struck Serbian hopes with a powerful drive in the 20th minute. Despite being a goal down, Serbia could take hope from a manic World Cup group stage that has seen giants fall and results oscillate across the board.
Therefore it was no surprise when the Serbian struck twice in quick succession. The first goal came from Aleksandar Mitrovic, who connected with a header that he promptly deposited into the far bottom corner.
Equaliser in the bag, Serbia were once again let in to the match, as well as the group, when the Swiss’ lackadaisical defending led to another Serbian opportunity.
This time, it was Shaqiri, who lost possession in the midfield. Dusan Tadic, an Ajax mainstay who is always good for a defence-splitting pass, managed to slip a ball in. The Swiss defence should have easily cleared the ball away but instead gave away possession to Dusan Vlahovic.
The Juventus striker took a left footed shot and slid the ball past keeper Gregor Kobel. Suddenly Serbia went from being last in Group G to being second.
But that scenario was short lived as the Swiss struck again, this time through Breel Embolo, who had a simple tap-in to score right as the first half was about to end, thanks to a Silvan Widmer pass. This is Embolo’s fourth goal in five successive games for his country.
The breathless first half was the polar opposite of the other game in Group G. Brazil, starting a second string side, after having secured their qualification to the next round, were in a goalless situation against Cameroon going into the break. A win for Cameroon would complicate matters in the group, much like it has for almost all other group stage matches.
The Swiss began their second half like they ended the first. Shaqiri was at the heart of this move as well. The winger received a pass back from Embolo and then supplied a delicate dink over the Serbian defence.
That ball over the top was met by Ruben Vargas who matched Shaqiri’s piece of skill with a deft no-look heel pass that reached Remo Frueler, who converted to give Switzerland their lead, as well as the second-place position on the group back.
The Serbians were now looking at a two-goal mountain to climb. And it was a mountain they’d fail to scale. Towards the end of the match, the Serbians slowed down, the third goal having knocked the wind off their sails.
On the other end of Doha, Cameroon struck in injury time. An Ngom Mbekeli cross from the right was met by Vincent Aboubakar, who ghosted between the Brazil centre-backs and was rewarded for his stealth. Even though they lost, Brazil still managed to take the top spot in Group G thanks to their superior goal difference.
A World Cup filled with a group stage of great intensity finally wound down to a close. Brazil and Switzerland became the final teams to go through to the Knockout stages. Cameroon went down with a win. Serbia, touted to go far in the tournament, fell at the first hurdle.