FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Uruguayan Football Association and four of the Celeste's players – including Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin – following the team's furious reaction to their World Cup exit.

Uruguay failed to escape Group H despite Friday's 2-0 win over Ghana, as South Korea advanced at their expense following their comeback victory against Portugal.

Diego Alonso's team were ultimately eliminated on the basis of goals scored, and reacted angrily when Cavani was denied a late penalty after going down in the Ghana 18-yard box.

Social media footage showed the former Manchester United striker pushing the VAR monitor over after the final whistle, while several other Uruguay players surrounded referee Daniel Siebert.

FIFA detailed the charges, alleging misconduct of Uruguayan players and officials, offensive behaviour and discrimination, in a statement released on Monday.

The statement also said Uruguay quartet Cavani, Godin, Jose Gimenez and Fernando Muslera were being investigated separately for alleged offences relating to offensive behaviour, violations of the principles of fair play and misconduct. 

Speaking after the game, which almost certainly marked the end of his World Cup career, striker Luis Suarez declared: "FIFA is always against Uruguay".

In a separate statement, FIFA revealed Serbia would also face charges of misconduct, discrimination and failure to preserve order and security following their fractious 3-2 defeat to Switzerland on the same day.

Serbia's loss ensured they finished bottom of Group G, while Switzerland advanced to the last 16 by joining pre-tournament favourites Brazil on six points.

Granit Xhaka found himself at the centre of another controversy involving Serbia after donning a shirt with 'Jashari' on the back following Switzerland’s 3-2 win in Doha on Friday.

Xhaka produced a man of the match display as the Swiss hit back from 2-1 down to secure second place in Group G and advance to a last-16 clash with Portugal on Tuesday.

But his actions after the final whistle could attract the attention of FIFA.

In the post-match celebrations, Xhaka put on a shirt carrying the name 'Jashari'. Asked afterwards what it meant, the Arsenal midfielder claimed it was for Switzerland squad member Ardon Jashari.

However, the name carries significance in other ways with Adem Jashari a late founder of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a Kosovo Albanian separatist group that fought for independence from the former Yugoslavia.

Xhaka is of ethnic Albanian heritage linked to Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008 but has not been recognised by Serbia. 

Asked about the shirt afterwards, Xhaka said: "There’s no political background to it whatsoever.

"Ardon is part of our squad and we spend a lot of time together. I told him if we won I would wear his shirt."

Xhaka was a key figure throughout a feisty encounter. He also prompted a second-half melee that saw the Serbia bench encroach on to the pitch after making a crude gesture, thought to be in the direction of substitute goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic, whose personal life has been the subject of speculation this week.

Switzerland boss Murat Yakin said he will "wait and see" if action is taken against Xhaka.

"We will enjoy this moment, it cost us a lot of emotions and energy. It was a fair match," he said.

"Before the game a lot of people were talking about the situation but we were able to face that challenge.

"We are happy we are moving on. Everything else is speculation and we will wait and see."

On the incident involving Rajkovic, Yakin added: "What I saw was a Granit Xhaka who was focused fully on football and performed very well. I saw the players from Serbia crossing the line, and others trying to calm them down. It was a normal exchange."

It is not the first time Xhaka has been embroiled in controversy against Serbia. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he and Xherdan Shaqiri were fined after crossing their hands to mimic the eagle displayed on the Albanian flag in Switzerland’s 2-1 win.

Shaqiri also played his part in Switzerland's victory here, scoring the opening goal at Stadium 974, but appeared annoyed to be taken off after 69 minutes.

"No-one likes to be subbed," Yakin said. "Every player wants to play the whole game, but it’s part of my responsibility to protect players. He scored his goal and had a great assist.

"The substitutes brought great energy and I thought they did well."

The flashpoints overshadowed a wonderful game with Switzerland’s greater composure at key moments proving decisive.

Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic praised his players but lamented the fact so many were struggling for fitness throughout their time in Qatar. He also insisted he had no intention of resigning.

He said: "We are not happy with the result but, given the problems we faced from our arrival here and the injuries we had to contend with, it was too much for us to cope with.

"The guys put up a fight but at this level that is not enough.

"As for my future, in March we start the qualifiers for the European Championship and we have a great desire to qualify."

Stojkovic claimed not to hear any of the chants that prompted an announcement over the public address system asking fans to refrain from discriminatory songs or gestures, thought to originate from sections housing Serbian supporters.

Switzerland playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri proved Serbia's nemesis once more by helping knock Dragan Stojkovic's men out of the World Cup on a tumultuous night at Stadium 974.

Shaqiri netted a last-minute winner against Serbia at the 2018 tournament in Russia and celebrated by making an eagle shape with his hands to show his support for Kosovo, the country of his birth and a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. That independence is not recognised by Serbia. 

The Chicago Fire man was booed and jeered throughout while at least one Serbia fan was thrown out for anti-Kosovo chanting.

Shaqiri had the last laugh with the opening goal as Switzerland, who came into the game knowing a draw would most likely be enough, advanced from Group G with a dramatic 3-2 win, alongside Brazil despite their surprise 1-0 defeat to Cameroon.

Switzerland nearly went ahead inside the first minute when Granit Xhaka's partially blocked shot fell beautifully for Breel Embolo but Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic made a smart block before parrying Xhaka's follow up.

Andrija Zivkovic struck the post from 20 yards in response for Serbia but Murat Yakin's men deservedly led after 20 minutes.

Djibril Sow recovered Ricardo Rodriguez's left-wing cross and nudged it into the path of Shaqiri, who fired home via a deflection off Strahinja Pavlovic before running off to celebrate by putting a finger to his lips in front of the s

Serbia responded superbly six minutes later when Dusan Tadic's left-wing cross was guided brilliantly past Gregor Kobel by Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Shaqiri arrowed wide when clean through, before Tadic impressed again to find Vlahovic, who turned smartly to fire past Kobel despite Remo Freuler almost taking the ball away from the Juventus striker.

It was Switzerland’s turn to dig deep and they did so admirably, Embolo turning in Silvan Widmer’s cross at the far post to make it the first time since England v Argentina in 1998 that both teams had scored at least twice in a World Cup game before half-time.

Switzerland completed the turnaround three minutes into the second half. Shaqiri chipped the ball in for Ruben Vargas, who flicked the ball beautifully on for Freuler to finish expertly.

Tempers frayed as Serbia sensed their time in Qatar was coming to an end - substitute goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic was booked for encroaching on to the pitch to confront the referee while a public address announcement asked for Serbian fans to stop making discriminatory chants and gestures.

There was one final flashpoint deep into stoppage time when Nikola Milenkovic and Xhaka clashed with several players looking to get involved. Both Milenkovic and Xhaka - another man with ethnic Albanian heritage linked to Kosovo - were booked.
 

What does it mean? Ronaldo and Portugal await

While Switzerland go on to a meeting with Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday, Serbia will head home.

On the balance of play it was the right outcome. Switzerland wobbled towards the end of the first half but, for the most part, played with a composure that Serbia lacked.

Shaqiri joins illustrious duo

Shaqiri may be the man the Serbian fans love to hate but he showed his endearing quality once more with Switzerland's opening goal.

It meant he became just one of three players to score at each of the last three World Cup tournaments. The other two? Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Evergreen Tadic shows his class

Tadic may be 34 but he remains Serbia's creative hub. He supplied the opener with a delicious cross from the left and was also instrumental in the second, although Freuler should have done better with his attempted clearance.

Whether he continues to play international football remains to be seen but he will leave a sizeable hole should he opt to stand down.

What's next?

Switzerland finish as runners-up to Brazil in Group G, and go on to face Portugal in four days' time.

Serbia go home having taken just one point from their three games, against Cameroon.

Serbia "will be ready" for the must-win showdown with Switzerland to keep their World Cup hopes alive, says coach Dragan Stojkovic.

With just a game to go in Group G, and Brazil already into the last 16, the pair will be vying for the final knockout stage spot alongside Cameroon.

Switzerland lie second with three points, while Serbia are at the foot of the table on one point with an inferior goal difference to the Indomitable Lions.

But victory would see them leapfrog their rivals, and potentially qualify if Cameroon also fail to win, with Stojkovic drawing a dairy-related analogy to indicate his side's plans.

"We'd really like to talk about their cheese and find their weak spots - the holes - to get the result," he said.

"We knew after the draw was held that Brazil is an entirely different dimension, and we would be fighting for second place with Cameroon and Switzerland.

"We knew the match with Switzerland would be of major importance as the last one in the group, and this is what we're now faced with. We've witnessed a lot of surprises at this World Cup, but we will be ready."

Serbia have been facing a nervous wait over the fitness of Juventus attacker Dusan Vlahovic, but Stojkovic has confirmed he will be available for the crucial clash.

He would not be drawn on whether he would start, however, adding: "[His] physical state is a lot better than it was when we came to Doha.

"He could start [Friday], but I cannot share this with you today."

Serbia midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic would have accepted knowing a win in their final Group G game against Switzerland would likely be enough to secure progression to the World Cup knockout stages.

Dragan Stojkovic's side have taken just one point from their two games so far, coming in a 3-3 draw against Cameroon last time out, but are still in with a chance of going through, although they need Cameroon to lose to Brazil.

Assuming that happens, a Serbia win would be enough with Switzerland requiring just a draw.

They find themselves in a perilous position but Milinkovic-Savic insists it is not a surprise. Asked if he would have taken this situation beforehand, he said: "Of course. When we saw the draw and the schedule, we knew that everything would depend on the last game.

"We need to take this opportunity with both hands."

Serbia's draw with Cameroon was arguably an opportunity lost given they were leading 3-1 in the second half.

Captain Dusan Tadic said: "It's certainly hard because we led 3-1 and you're not happy when you end up with a draw.

"We created a lot of chances, but of course the goals we conceded should not happen. It starts with the midfield and the defence. We know now we need a win in the last round."

Avoiding defeat is likely to be enough for the Swiss, but boss Murat Yakin will send his players out with clear instructions to try to win the game.

He said: "We’ll have to find the right balance. I think we can be the dominant team, we’ve proven that in the past. It will be exciting, we'll need a good start. 

"As a head coach, you can’t send out a team and tell them a draw is enough.

"Of course we want to try to win this game, we know we have the skills and quality to do so. Hopefully we’ll be well prepared, and then I’m convinced we’ll be the dominant team, we will take more risks.

"It will be an exciting game, we want to focus on football, everything else I don’t really care about."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Serbia - Aleksandar Mitrovic

The Fulham striker produced a mixed performance in the draw with Cameroon. While he was a nuisance all afternoon and scored a goal, he failed to capitalise on many of the chances that came his way. Twice in the first half he should have done better while he also missed another clear opportunity in the closing stages.

He will need to improve markedly if Serbia are to get the win they require.

 

Switzerland - Yann Sommer

A clean sheet would likely guarantee Switzerland's progression, and Yakin will be reassured by the fact he can count on one of the tournament's in-form goalkeepers.

Only two men have made more saves than Sommer's nine, the Netherlands' Andries Noppert (albeit from three matches rather than Sommer's two) and his opposite number on Friday, Vanja Milinkovic-Savic (12).


PREDICTION

Stats Perform's AI model believes all three outcomes are a distinct possibility with little to separate them.

Serbia are ranked a 39 per cent chance to claim the three points they require, with Switzerland a 34.6 per cent chance. A draw comes in at 26.4 per cent. As is often the case, it will come down to fine margins - a mistake or a moment of genius.

Dusan Vlahovic believes his injury woes are behind him ahead of Serbia's must-win World Cup clash with Switzerland on Friday, declaring he would play "with one leg" if necessary. 

Vlahovic was an unused substitute as Serbia squandered a 3-1 lead in Monday's thrilling 3-3 draw with Cameroon, having only played 24 minutes from the bench in their 2-0 loss to Brazil on matchday one after struggling with a groin injury.

Serbia must beat Switzerland to have any chance of reaching the last 16, while their fate could be decided by goal difference if Cameroon beat Brazil, and Vlahovic is determined to be involved.

Asked about his condition at a press conference on Wednesday, Vlahovic said: "I managed to recover in 10 days to be available for the national team.

"We all talk to the coach every day, he knows my possibilities. If needed with one leg, I'm ready. 

"The question is how much I can help the team. I feel much better and I'm ready to help us go for the win.

"We feel the support and you can see and feel in the air that the people believe in us. We knew that the game with Switzerland would be decisive for us, we live for it. 

"Against them, we promise to play to the maximum. If they are better, let them beat us, if not, we will win."

Switzerland edged out Serbia by two points to qualify from Group E at the 2018 World Cup, claiming a 2-1 victory from a highly charged head-to-head meeting between the teams.  

In the aftermath of that game, Switzerland goalscorers Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri – both of whom are of Albanian-Kosovan descent – were charged by FIFA after appearing to celebrate their strikes by performing an Albanian nationalist gesture.

Those celebrations led to Serbia – which does not recognise Kosovo's independence – lodging a formal complaint, but Vlahovic was unwilling to stray from on-pitch matters ahead of the teams' reunion.

"We are not interested in provocations, we are here for the football story," Vlahovic said.

"There is nothing better and more beautiful than to win the next match. The passage to the knockout phase will mean everything to the whole nation and us."

France, Brazil and Portugal are the only sides to have already secured World Cup knockout football, with numerous teams facing a nervy final matchday as they bid to reach the round of 16 in Qatar.

Pre-tournament favourites Brazil breezed through Group G with wins over Serbia and Switzerland, while France became the first reigning world champions to escape the group stage since the Selecao in 2006.

Portugal made sure of their round-of-16 spot after Monday's Group H victory over Uruguay, yet the likes of England, Spain, Germany and Argentina all need results on matchday three to progress.

The Netherlands are another big name that have yet to confirm their place in the latter stages of FIFA's top tournament, while Belgium face a tense Group F clash with Croatia to avoid an early exit.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the permutations riding on the final selection of group-stage action in the Middle East.

Group A

The Netherlands are largely in control of Group A, needing to just avoid defeat against the already eliminated hosts, Qatar.

Louis van Gaal's side will also reach the round of 16 if Ecuador beat Senegal, who have to win otherwise Aliou Cisse's side will rely on a somewhat unlikely win for Qatar over the Netherlands to remain in contention.

Ecuador, who have impressed in their first two games, must win or draw against Senegal to progress. However, Gustavo Alfaro's men could go through in defeat if Qatar beat the Netherlands.

Group B

A win or a draw is enough for England against fierce rivals Wales. Yet, the Three Lions would still progress as long as they avoid a four-goal defeat against Wales, whose goal difference is six fewer.

Iran are guaranteed to qualify with victory over the United States, who know anything other than a win against Carlos Queiroz's side will see them eliminated from the competition.

Quieroz's men could still escape Group B with a draw, though goal difference would come into play if Wales pick up their first win at the tournament against Gareth Southgate's England.

Group C

All four teams can still make it out of an enticing Group C, with Argentina – who were among the pre-tournament favourites – needing to beat Poland to guarantee a round-of-16 place.

La Albiceleste could progress with a draw, however, and would be through in that instance if Mexico and Saudi Arabia also share the spoils.

Yet, if Lionel Scaloni's men are held and Herve Renard's men beat El Tri, Argentina will be eliminated. If Mexico win and Argentina draw, it goes to goal difference.

Poland would go through by avoiding defeat, but would be knocked out by a loss coupled with a Saudi Arabia victory over Mexico, who must win to have any chance of remaining in the tournament.

If Poland lose and Saudi Arabia draw, the two teams will have to be separated by goal difference, which will also be used if Czeslaw Michniewicz's side are defeated and Mexico win.

Group D

France are already in the round-of-16 draw and will top Group D as long as they do not lose to Tunisia and Australia do not defeat Denmark, otherwise the Socceroos would move level on six points with Les Bleus.

While victory would take Australia through, Graham Arnold's side would still reach the knockout stage with a draw unless Tunisia beat France, which would see Jalel Kadri's men progress on goal difference.

Denmark would grab qualification with a win over Australia unless Tunisia triumph over France, which would leave goal difference or goals scored to separate the Carthage Eagles and Kasper Hjulmand's men.

Group E

Spain are the favourites to progress from Group E, requiring a win or draw against Japan. Defeat would see Luis Enrique's side still go through on goal difference, unless Germany lose to Costa Rica.

Germany must pick up three points to stay in contention and would qualify as long as Spain defeat Japan, though a draw in the latter game or a win for Hajime Moriyasu's men would see goal difference needed.

A win for Japan over Spain would take Moriyasu's side through, while a draw – coupled with a stalemate for Germany – would also see the Samurai Blue make the knockout stage.

Costa Rica would earn a last-16 spot with victory and a point would also take them through if Spain overcome Japan. A draw in both games or a defeat for Fernando Suarez's side sees them eliminated.

Group F

Croatia will pass through Group F if they avoid defeat against Belgium, who require victory against the 2018 runners-up to guarantee a place in the round of 16.

Such a win for Belgium would leave Croatia needing already eliminated Canada to overcome Morocco, with goal difference coming into play to separate Zlatko Dalic's side from the Atlas Lions.

A draw is likely not enough for Belgium. They would need Morocco to lose to Canada and then rely on goal difference, though Walid Regragui's men (+2) hold the advantage over Roberto Martinez's side (-1) in the decisive metric.

Morocco would progress with victory over Canada, while a defeat would see Regragui's side reliant on Belgium beating Croatia for goal difference to be decisive between Dalic's men and the Atlas Lions for second.

Group G

Brazil have secured knockout football and will finish as Group G winners with anything other than defeat against Cameroon, who need victory against Tite's side and results to go their way to make the last 16.

Rigobert Song's men would be eliminated if they do not win, though victory is not guaranteed to secure progression as Switzerland could play out a high-scoring draw with Serbia to go through on goals scored, which is used if sides cannot be separated on goal difference – Cameroon are currently on -1 and Switzerland level in the latter metric.

The somewhat expected scenario of Cameroon losing to Brazil would see Serbia and Switzerland become a winner-takes-all clash. 

Dragan Stojkovic's side need victory to progress in that instance, while a draw would be enough for Switzerland. Goal difference would be required if Serbia (-2) and Cameroon (-1) both win their final encounters.

Group H

Portugal are already through and would top Group H by avoiding defeat against South Korea, who could still make a late charge for the round-of-16 stage should the result between Uruguay and Ghana go their way.

The permutations are straightforward for Uruguay and South Korea, who must win to avoid elimination, though qualification is not assured even with victory.

Both teams would be level on four points with victories, again leading to goal difference to separate. Yet, if Ghana beat Uruguay then South Korea's result against Portugal will prove irrelevant for Paulo Bento's side.

A draw for Ghana and a win for South Korea would also see goal difference required to split the two sides, with Bento's men trailing the Black Stars by one in that metric, which could mean goals scored comes into it.

Andre Onana has been suspended by Cameroon due to disciplinary reasons after coach Rigobert Song left the goalkeeper out against Serbia.

Devis Epassy was preferred in goal for Monday's thrilling 3-3 World Cup draw, with reports suggesting Onana's omission came after a disagreement with Song over the 26-year-old's playing style against Switzerland.

Song explained after the match that he felt he needed to "take a strong action" and that "those that didn't want to be a part of that, well they can be judged."

The Cameroon Football Federation subsequently confirmed Inter goalkeeper Onana has been stepped down from his duties for an indefinite period.

"Following Rigobert Song's decision, Andre Onana has been temporarily suspended from the group for disciplinary reasons," a statement read.

"The Cameron Football Federation reiterates its full support to the head coach and his entire staff as they implement the Federation's policy aimed at preserving discipline, solidarity, complementarity and cohesion within the national team.

"FECAFOOT further reaffirms its commitment to create a peaceful atmosphere for the team and to provide them with adequate facilities for outstanding performance."

Against the Swiss, Onana had the most touches outside the box by a goalkeeper in a World Cup match (26) since 1966.

Epassy provided a more "traditional" approach that Song suggested he was looking for against Serbia, with the goalkeeper making two saves and attempting just 18 passes, though he could have done better for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's strike in first-half stoppage time.

The fallout of the Onana furore overshadowed Cameroon salvaging an unlikely draw from 3-1 down, though it dented both teams' hopes of progressing from Group G.

Cameroon face Brazil in their last group game on Friday, sitting two points behind second-placed Switzerland.

Serbia boss Dragan Stojkovic felt his team should have "been smarter" in trying to see out their game against Cameroon.

Stojkovic's side were in the driving seat after coming back from 1-0 down to lead 3-1 with 26 minutes to play, only for the introduction of Vincent Boubakar to transform the game.

The Al Nassr striker reduced the deficit after 64 minutes, running on to Jean-Charles Castelletto's through ball before producing an impudent scoop over Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic - the goal given after a VAR check.

He then turned provider two minutes later, escaping down the right before crossing for Eric Choupo-Moting to fire in and salvage a 3-3 Group G draw at Al Janoub Stadium.

Stojkovic rued what he felt were two defensive lapses that allowed Cameroon to claim a point.

He said: "We controlled the match and played the way we can but these two mistakes were decisive. This should not happen but due to the fatigue and a lack of concentration it's a draw. We should have finished the match in a smarter way."

Both sides have a point from their two games and will keep a close eye on Monday's other Group G clash between Brazil and Switzerland to understand what they need to do on matchday three.

"We have a chance," added Stojkovic, whose side meet Tite's men on Friday. "We seem to like the difficult road in order to achieve a goal.

"We have to be more concentrated, especially in defence. Such mistakes should not happen or repeated any more."

Cameroon boss Rigobert Song, who left goalkeeper Andre Onana out for disciplinary reasons, was delighted by his side's determination to hit back from what seemed a lost cause.

"That’s part of our DNA," he said. "It was missing in the first match [against Switzerland] but we tried to show it today.

"What was important for this match was to show that fighting spirit, that great determination and that’s what we saw in a very committed performance."

Aboubakar, named man of the match even though he only came on in the 55th minute, took inspiration from Morocco's 2-0 defeat of Belgium on Sunday.

He said: "We saw how Morocco played and we realised you have to play with great determination if you want to win games at this tournament.

"When I came on, I tried to enjoy it and tried to make the right runs on the last defender and they found it hard to follow me."

Boubakar is the Cameroon captain but made light of being omitted from the starting line-up for both games in Qatar so far.

"Being captain is not a big deal," he added. "When I play for Cameroon I try to do my best and to win the game. Whoever is captain it doesn’t really matter. You have to play for the team."

Rigobert Song confirmed goalkeeper Andre Onana was left out of the Cameroon squad for Monday’s 3-3 draw against Serbia for disciplinary reasons - and insisted it was a decision that "had to happen".

Song would not elaborate on the reasons behind Onana's omission - reports suggested it was due to a disagreement over the 26-year-old's playing style in the opening World Cup defeat to Switzerland - but was satisfied he had made the right decision for the wider squad.

Against the Swiss, Onana made the most touches outside the box by a goalkeeper in a World Cup match (26) since records began in 1966.
 

 

The row overshadowed Cameroon hitting back from 3-1 down to claim an unlikely Group G draw against Serbia at Al Janoub Stadium, a result that dents both sides' hopes of advancing to the knockout phase.

Song said: "The goalkeeper position is very important but we are in a tournament and I know what I have to do and that is to ensure the team takes precedence over any individuals.

"In a squad, you need discipline and if you can't fit in with that, then you need to accept responsibility for that. Perhaps sometimes you need to take strong action to help people come to the realisation that certain things need to be done.

"All the 26 players are in a position to play. I took a risk but I accept the responsibility. I am interested in the players that I have at my disposal. Andre has been left out, you need to respect the rules that apply to everyone. It was something that had to happen."

Onana was replaced by Devis Epassy, who could have done better with Serbia's second goal but otherwise proved an able deputy.

Song added: "Everyone that did play was capable and those that didn't want to be a part of that, well they can be judged. Epassy showed he is also a very competent goalkeeper.

"I will talk about this in due course, I want to focus now on the Brazil game. We want to deal with players that want to be in the squad and that are proud to represent Cameroon.

"We are talking about one of the best goalkeepers in Europe [in Onana]. We don't question his ability but you do need to ensure the team takes precedence over individuals.

"For the time being I have asked him to wait and see if he is willing to stay with us. It's up to him to a certain extent, he will have to agree to accept the rules."

Cameroon hit back from two goals down to secure a 3-3 draw with Serbia that preserves both sides' chances of advancing to the World Cup round of 16.

The Indomitable Lions, with regular goalkeeper Andre Onana reportedly on his way home after a falling out with coach Rigobert Song, scored first through Jean-Charles Castelletto only for Serbia to seize control through goals from Strahinja Pavlovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

It seemed Dragan Stojkovic's men were cruising but they were stung by two goals in three second-half minutes, substitute Vincent Aboubakar's clever finish reducing the arrears before Eric Choupo-Moting brought Cameroon level.

Serbia bossed the bulk of the first half but had to wait until just before half-time to make their superiority count in the Group G clash at Al Janoub Stadium on Monday.

Mitrovic fired a left-footed strike against the post in the sixth minute following a neat one-two with Dusan Tadic and, six minutes later, came close again by shooting wide from close range after the ball bobbled around the Cameroon box.

Serbia were made to pay for his profligacy when Cameroon took the lead approaching the half-hour mark.

Pierre Kunde whipped in a corner from the left that was flicked on by Nicolas Nkoulou and Castelletto tapped in at the far post.

Cameroon could have doubled their advantage after 43 minutes but Kunde fired straight at goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic when clean through before slicing the rebound horribly wide.

It was to prove a critical moment as Serbia turned the game around before the break.

First, Pavlovic headed in Tadic’s floated free-kick before Sergej Milinkovic-Savic drove home from the edge of the box, although Onana's deputy Devis Epassy should have done better.

Mitrovic got the goal his all-round display deserved eight minutes into the second half.

Lovely interplay from Filip Kostic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic enabled Andrija Zivkovic to find space on the right side of the area and his cut-back was perfect for Mitrovic to tap into an empty net.

Cameroon appeared to be beaten but the 55th-minute introduction of Aboubakar turned the game on its head.

The Al Nassr striker made it 3-2 after 64 minutes, running on to Castelletto's through ball before producing an impudent scoop over Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic - the goal given after a VAR check.

He then turned provider two minutes later, escaping down the right before crossing for Choupo-Moting to fire in.

Mitrovic could have clinched it but shot straight at Epassy.

Nemanja Gudelj has defended the challenge on Neymar that may have led Brazil's star man to sustain his ankle injury in the victory over Serbia.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar limped off in the 80th minute of the Selecao's 2-0 triumph on Thursday, having been subjected to nine fouls – more than any other player during the opening round of group games.

Neymar, who suffered what has been described as a lateral ligament injury to his right ankle, shared an update on his official Instagram account on Saturday, including photos of his heavily swollen foot.

Gudelj received a yellow card for his 49th-minute challenge – and was substituted eight minutes later – but the midfielder insists he had no intention of injuring his opponent.

"I didn't feel like I tackled him very hard myself," Gudelj told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "I tried not to hit him hard and certainly not on his ankle. I think he got injured during another action, because he played on for a while.

"I felt I had no choice because Neymar is deadly when he enters the penalty area. It was a necessary foul in my opinion, but one that eventually cost me a substitution."

Serbia suffered their eighth World Cup defeat since 2006 after going down against Brazil, with only Australia losing on more occasions at the finals during this span (nine).

Dragan Stojkovic's side can reignite their last-16 hopes with victory over Cameroon on Monday, before their Group G campaign concludes against Switzerland four days later.

"We played too carefully in the second half [against Brazil] and showed too much respect," Gudelj added. "We collapsed, so we certainly asked for a goal against a team with as much quality up front as Brazil.

"Whether we have seen the future world champions at work, I don't know. But they are definitely one of the favourites. They are an excellent team with technical and dynamic players. They're definitely going to fight for the gold.

"We have faith in ourselves and hope. Of course, you can lose a game against Brazil, because they really have an excellent team.

"We just need to win two games now. So, we're going full steam ahead, with attacking football – the way we like to play."

Sporting director Stevan Stojanovic was frustrated by Serbia's lack of belief in their defeat to Brazil, but has backed them to bounce back against Cameroon.

Two second-half goals from Richarlison saw Brazil run out 2-0 winners in their World Cup Group G opener on Thursday with Serbia producing an uncharacteristically passive performance.

They have the chance to kick-start their campaign when they meet a Cameroon side smarting from a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland, and Stojanovic is demanding a more assertive display.

He told the Informer newspaper: "We analysed the game against Brazil and I think we respected them too much. It's okay to respect Brazil, you should, but it's not good to underestimate yourself.

"It seems to me that we surrendered at half-time. It was as if the players in the dressing room thought that they could do nothing against such a strong Brazil, so they immediately counted on having two more games in which we should look to qualify."

 

Cameroon will pose a different type of threat although Stojanovic was not overly impressed after watching their game against the Swiss, adding: "African teams are unpredictable, including Cameroon. They have a couple of fast players, they need to be paid attention to.

"Cameroon threatened in the first half, had two or three chances, but it was as if they did not know how to take those opportunities. I wouldn't say they were selfish, but rash. They have some wild cards and you can see that no match here at the World Cup is easy, but we know our quality."

If Serbia were disappointing in their opening display, the same can be said of Cameroon who were sunk by Breel Embolo's close-range goal.

The Indomitable Lions were hit by more bad news on Friday after it emerged midfielder Olivier Ntcham, who missed the Switzerland game, will also sit out their remaining two group games through injury.

Coach Rigobert Song was heavily criticised in the aftermath of Thursday's encounter but is remaining optimistic.

"There is no question, everything is still possible and we have not given up hope," he said. "But we know we are no longer able to make mistakes.

"We will play an all-out game without hesitation. I think the game against Serbia will be different."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Serbia - Dusan Vlahovic

Reduced to a substitute's role against Brazil with coach Dragan Stojkovic adopting a more cautious approach, Juventus forward Vlahovic is likely to start against Cameroon with Serbia needing to win.

Vlahovic has been a rare bright spark for Juve this season, scoring six goals in 10 Serie A appearances, and will form a physical strikeforce with Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Cameroon - Bryan Mbeumo

Cameroon will be hoping for more from Bryan Mbeumo. The Brentford attacker was a peripheral figure against Switzerland, contributing just one shot on target and three touches inside the opposition box.

This would be the ideal moment for Mbeumo to score his first international goal, as Cameroon are averaging just 0.8 goals per game at the World Cup (18 goals in 24 games), the lowest ratio of any nation to play at least 20 games in the tournament. 


PREDICTION

Serbia possess the greater attacking threat with the likes of Mitrovic, Vlahovic and Dusan Tadic, so they are fancied to win this one and get their qualification hopes back on track.

Stats Perform's AI model gives them a 56.3 per cent chance of emerging victorious with Cameroon's hopes rated at just 19.5 per cent. A draw comes in at 24.2 per cent, although that result would not really help either side.

Tite admitted it was a tough call to pick a starting striker, but he was thrilled with the performance of Richarlison after netting both of Brazil's goals in their 2-0 victory against Serbia on Thursday.

Richarlison got the nod at number nine ahead of Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus and Flamengo's Pedro, and after a scoreless first half, he was on hand to prod home the opener in the 62nd minute after Vinicius Junior's shot was parried into his path.

That would just be the appetiser, as just 10 minutes later he produced what will be a contender for goal of the tournament as he controlled Vinicius' shin-high cross with his left foot, popping it up in the air before acrobatically spinning and volleying it home over his shoulder with his right boot.

It was his 19th senior international goal, to go with 88 club goals in his career, and after the match he said he believes it could be his best.

"It was a beautiful goal," he told reporters. "Probably one of the nicest in all of my career.

"It's the World Cup, it was a tough match… it was one of the nicest goals I have ever scored."

Tite spoke about how agonising it was to choose between the wealth of forward talent at his disposal, but also of how impressed he was by Richarlison, particularly in the second half.

"I must tell you, I had six or seven names to call [as striker], and whoever I called, we would have had a great team," Tite said. 

"So we came with Pedro, Richarlison and Gabriel. We could have had [Gabriel] Barbosa, we could have had Firmino, we could have had [Matheus] Cunha, we could have had Hulk. We have a huge number, and you have to pick someone.

"Richarlison is fantastic, we see how he controls the ball… in the second half he created a lot of volume, he adjusted, he calmed down a little bit, he was more precise in his passes.

"The first touch of the ball is crucial to make it flow, and then he started with volume, volume, volume of plays."

When asked if he was potentially disappointed with how much of a struggle things were early on, Tite made it clear he does not view Serbia as an easy fixture.

"Serbia were very, very good, very quick in the first half," he said. "But here, you have to keep that rhythm, and keep that level of marking during the entire match.

"They ended the first half very quick, very good technical skill, they were able to start the ball and put it into play quickly, and we weren't able to stop them from putting the ball into play.

"They are a team, which in the qualifiers they took out Portugal, and in a very consistent manner they played in the qualifiers with opponents at a very high level. They are a great team, and we were able to control them in both halves. We were able to produce more offensively in the second half because of our fine-tuning.

"They had very, very high quality. There was always a lot of pressure, so it did require a lot from us."

Brazil will continue their campaign in Group G on Monday when they take on Switzerland, before closing their group stage against Cameroon next Friday.

Dragan Stojkovic was made to rue Serbia's injury problems after their defeat by Brazil, believing they could have mounted a greater challenge with a fully-fit squad.

The Eagles went down 2-0 against the five-time World Cup winners in their opening match at the finals, with Richarlison's second-half double settling the Group F clash at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Having just returned from a foot injury, Aleksandar Mitrovic failed to register a single shot on goal, while Dusan Vlahovic appeared from the bench after recently recovering from a groin problem, and winger Filip Kostic was an unused substitute due to muscular issues.

Stojkovic believes his side felt the consequences of having three key players lacking fitness.

"One of the factors [in Serbia's performance] that was quite surprising for me was the physical factor," he said. "We simply could not recognise our team.

"In the second half, we fell physically, and we were no longer a team. Of course, Brazil knew how to take advantage of this because they have excellent players, and they punished us.

"We have three key players who are injured, it's too much for us. We are not Brazil with 200 million people, we are a very small country. They got injured just before the World Cup, so it's really unlucky.

"Tonight, we would have a different scenario if my players were healthy, but there’s no shame to lose against Brazil.

"It would be a completely different story, 100 per cent, but they are not ready and that’s the way it is."

Serbia have now lost eight of their 10 World Cup matches since 2006, with only Australia (nine) registering more defeats during that time.

Stojkovic's side will look to respond when they face Cameroon on Monday, before concluding their Group G campaign against Switzerland four days later.

Page 1 of 4
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.