Breel Embolo’s goal propelled Switzerland to a 1-0 victory against Cameroon at the World Cup and he kept his promise not to celebrate the goal against the country where he was born.
The Swiss striker from Yaoundé struck with a right-footed shot in the 48th minute of Thursday’s game, standing on his own eight yards in the middle of the goalmouth to take Xherdan Shaqiri’s low pass.
Embolo then pursed his lips in a wry smile and held out his arms, before raising his hands in a gesture of apology as his teammates rushed towards him near the penalty spot.
He pointed at the Swiss fans behind the goal where he had scored and then at the Cameroonian fans in the opposite corner of the Al Janoub stadium.
The 25-year-old striker left Cameroon with his family when he was five years old. They spent time in France before moving to Switzerland, the country he now represents at a second World Cup.
The Indomitable Lions, who knocked out Algeria in the qualifiers to qualify for the tournament, had dominated the Swiss in the opening 45 minutes with quick combinations, speed and power as their opponents remained toothless in front.
They carved out their first chance after 10 minutes with Bryan Mbeumo testing goalkeeper Yann Sommer before Karl Toko Ekambi sent his rebound over the bar.
The Swiss were in trouble again a little later with in-form striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting snatching the ball from an opponent to charge into the box, but Sommer blocked his effort.
Seeking their first World Cup victory in 20 years, Cameroon were bolder, taking on their opponents one-on-one, while the Swiss rarely managed to get inside their opponents’ box.
Switzerland, who have reached the round of 16 at the previous two World Cups, struck early in the second half with Shaqiri cutting into the box and Embolo tapping in what turned out to be the winner.
An almost identical move just after the hour mark almost allowed the Swiss to score again, but Ruben Vargas’ shot was saved by goalkeeper Andre Onana who kept his side in the game.
Cameroon’s losing streak in the final stages of the World Cup has stretched to eight games since 2002.
The Swiss will face Brazil on Monday with Cameroon facing Serbia.
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