Embolo cursed the nation of birth to beat

Breel Embolo scored the decisive goal for Switzerland

Breel Embolo scored the winner against the country of his birth as Switzerland beat Cameroon 1-0 at the Al Janoub Stadium in their World Cup Group G opener on Thursday.

The Yaounde-born striker refused to celebrate in the second half but his strike sparked scenes of joy for Switzerland at full time as Murat Yakin’s team inflicted Cameroon an eighth successive World Cup defeat, one short of a record.

The Indomitable Lions were better in the first half and kept Yann Sommer relatively busy in the Switzerland goal, although there were some warning signs for Cameroon before the break.

Embolo was involved in one of those incidents and was the right man to break the deadlock in the 48th minute, with Switzerland ultimately getting good points for the win after an effective second-half display.

Cameroon started with the bigger goal and should have scored 10 minutes later when Bryan Mbeumo blasted Sommer and Karl Toko Ekambi mysteriously fired on the rebound.

Undeterred, Cameroon continued to look more threatening, with Martin Hongla testing Sommer from a tight angle 20 minutes later and Silvan Widmer’s crucial clearance denied Toko Ekambi.

However, Switzerland finished the half stronger, and only a late Jean-Charles Castelletto tackle prevented Embolo from scoring a certain goal before Manuel Akanji nodded wide in stoppage time.

But Embolo was undeniable right after the break when the Monaco forward scored from Xherdan Shaqiri’s low right-wing cross.

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Andre Onana kept Cameroon in the contest just past the hour with a fine stop to deny Ruben Vargas, but Rigobert Song’s men were unable to capitalize at the other end.

What does it mean? An important win for Switzerland as things get more difficult from here

With Brazil and Serbia to come, it was important for Switzerland to come through this with a positive result – and it did.

It was certainly not a classic performance from a team Yakin has called “one of the best Swiss national teams ever”, but in the second half they played very fluidly most of the time.

Switzerland is one of only three European teams to reach the knockout stages in each of the last four major international tournaments, and it is a big step to continue that streak in Qatar.

Shaqiri is as reliable as ever

He may not carry the same impact over the Swiss public game that he once did, but Shaqiri always seems to give his best for his national team. His cross, cleverly pulled back slightly, provided an easy finish for Embolo’s winning goal and gave the experienced winger his 12th goal involvement for Switzerland over the last four major tournaments, exactly 50 per cent of their total.

Vargas is frustrating

He was full of running and trying hard, but it was mostly a frustrating display from the left winger. Despite the two high chances he created for Switzerland, he wasted two resounding chances: one saw him cut a cross over the goal with Granit Xhaka waiting to tap in, and the second involved him failing to beat Onana from close range.

What’s next?

Switzerland faces a final test when they tussle with Brazil on Monday. Cameroon will play Serbia on the same day.

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