Switzerland opened their World Cup campaign with an entertaining 1-0 win over Cameroon, who were undone by one of their own.
Breel Embolo scored the winner against his birth nation as Switzerland beat Cameroon 1-0 at Al Janoub Stadium in their World Cup Group G opener on Thursday.
The Yaounde-born forward refused to celebrate his second-half strike, but his goal sparked jubilant scenes at full-time for the Swiss as Murat Yakin’s side handed Cameroon an eighth consecutive World Cup defeat, just shy of a record.
The Indomitable Lions had the better of the first half and kept Yann Sommer fairly busy in the Swiss net, although there were a few warning signs for Cameroon just before the break.
Embolo was involved in one of those incidents and was the man to break the deadlock in the 48th minute, with Switzerland finally well-priced to win after an impressive second-half display.
Cameroon started with more intent and should have scored on 10 minutes when Bryan Mbeumo shot at Sommer and Karl Toko Ekambi inexplicably fired over on the rebound.
Cameroon were undeterred and looked increasingly threatening, Martin Hongla testing Sommer from a tight angle 20 minutes later and Silvan Widmer’s crucial clearance denying Toko Ekambi a tap-in.
However, Switzerland finished the half stronger and only a last-ditch save from Jean-Charles Castelletto prevented Embola from a certain goal before Manuel Akanji nodded just wide in stoppage time.
But Embolo was not to be denied just after the break when the Monaco forward swept home from Xherdan Shaqiri’s low right-hand drive.
Andre Onana kept Cameroon in the game just after the hour mark with a fine stop to thwart Ruben Vargas, but Rigobert Songo’s men failed to capitalize at the other end.
What does it mean? An important win for Switzerland as it only gets harder from here
With Brazil and Serbia coming up, it was imperative that Switzerland come through with a positive result – and they did.
It certainly wasn’t a vintage performance from the Yakins, who called themselves “one of the best Swiss national teams ever”, but they often played really fluidly in the second half.
Switzerland are one of only three European teams to reach the knockout stage at each of the last four major international tournaments, and that was a big step towards continuing that run in Qatar.