Cameroon were made to fight to the final minute by 10-man Comoros, but ultimately progressed to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarter-finals thanks to goals from Karl Toko-Ekambi and tournament top scorer Vincent Aboubakar.
Prior to the match, the ‘Coelacanths’ were quickly brought tumbling back down to earth following their shock triumph over Ghana to progress from the groups, as 12 of their squad were ruled out with Covid-19, meaning the already clear underdogs would have to play without a registered goalkeeper.
Just when it seemed all of Comoros’ bad luck had been used up, things went from bad to worse just seven minutes in, as a VAR review of a cynical Nadjim Abdou foul led to the captain being dismissed.
The tournament hosts kicked on against their weakened opponents, having been handed the perfect opportunity to overcome their AFCON last 16 struggles after only progressing on two of the last six occasions they have been involved at this stage.
Cameroon were made to work for it, but the breakthrough eventually arrived with half an hour played.
After winning the ball high up, all it took was one pass to reach Aboubakar, who unselfishly squared to Toko-Ekambi to tap past Comoros’ defender-turned-goalkeeper for the evening, Chaker Alhadhur.
Surprisingly, the ‘Indomitable Lions’ lacked ruthlessness, and had André Onana not made a fantastic double save minutes before the break, the sides would have been level at HT.
Normal service resumed in the second half, but still, the hosts found it difficult to break Comoros down.
Despite their 132nd-place in FIFA’s world rankings, the island nation had made a habit of keeping the matches tight, with 12 of their last 18 matches either a draw or settled by one goal, and it was no different here.
Alhadhur made a fine double save to deny Aboubakar and Nicolas Ngamaleu, but as the match progressed, Cameroon’s quality was too much for the underdogs to handle.
And Aboubakar eventually grabbed his sixth goal of the tournament from close range.
At 2-0 it seemed done and dusted, but the ‘Coelacanths’ had threatened from the first kick and set up an interesting final nine minutes with a fantastic goal deserved for their efforts.
Substitute Youssouf M’Changama fired in a looping free-kick from 30 yards that had Onana sprawling, but in the end, it wasn’t enough to prevent Cameroon taking their place in the quarter-finals.