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World Cup Review 11.28: Ronaldo has to let Bruno Fernandes take plaudits as Pepe pockets Darwin Nunez

Natalia Richardson

Updated: Nov 29, 2022 02:10

World Cup Yesterday: Ronaldo has to let Bruno Fernandes take plaudits as Pepe pockets Darwin Nunez

Plus: Cameroon striker Vincent Aboubakar came off the bench to score one goal and set up another as the Indomitable Lions rescued a point in their 3-3 draw with Serbia; Brazil's rock solid approach looks like a template for World Cup success

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Darwin Nunez was pocketed by Pepe as Uruguay failed to score against Portugal

At the Al Bayt Stadium, Germany just about maintained their World Cup campaign after Niclas Fullkrug's late goal saved a 1-1 draw with Spain.

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Fernandes takes centre-stage for Portugal

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Bruno Fernandes celebrates after doubling Portugal's lead from the penalty spot

There will be a lot of discussion about Cristiano Ronaldo's alleged ghost touch on Bruno Fernandes' cross for Portugal's opening goal against Uruguay. Although Fernandes played a vital part in it, the fact that it was recorded as a goal rather than an assist does not change that.

The midfielder for Manchester United later converted a penalty that he had won to score the game's second goal. With these two goals and the two assists he gave to his teammates late in the victory over Ghana, Fernandes may very well be the tournament's best player thus far.

Aboubakar does his talking on the pitch

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Vincent Aboubakar changed the game for Cameroon

Just eight minutes into the second half at the Al Janoub Stadium, Aleksandar Mitrovic finished a wonderful team goal for Serbia, saving Cameroon from a record-tying ninth straight defeat at a World Cup finals.

Rigobert Song, the manager, appeared to be at a loss for words, but it was the signal for Vincent Aboubakar to leave the bench. Aboubakar, who led all scorers at the Africa Cup of Nations finals earlier this year, partnered Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting up front as Cameroon switched to a 4-4-2 formation.

It would turn out to be a switch that would upend this wild Group G fixture. In order to draw the game and keep Cameroon in the competition, he first supplied a flawless chip into the net for 3-2. He then outran the offside trap, sprinted free, and sent over a low cross for Choupo-Moting to tie the game.

Aboubakar made history by becoming the first substitute for an African team to both score and assist a goal in a World Cup game.

Tite harnesses Brazil's attacking gems to stay perfect

tite-coaches

Brazil was forced to wait against Switzerland, just as it had been with their first victory over Serbia.

Without their talisman Neymar, they battled mightily to attack with any type of fluency, and when they did manage to take the initiative in the final third, they encountered a wall of red shirts that limited the prospects of their valued opponents.

But Stadium 974's head coach Tite realized he had to bring in some new players during halftime. The possibility of a Swiss sucker-punch loomed larger and demanded new solutions.

Serbia failing to match dark horses tag

Aleksandar-Mitrovic

Aleksandar Mitrovic opened his World Cup 2022 account against Cameroon but also missed several chances

It's easy to understand why many predicted Serbia would be the World Cup's dark horse after they finished higher in qualification than Portugal and brought players like Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Vlahovic, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic with them.

However, after scoring three goals against Cameroon on Monday, Serbia's shoddy second-half defending has left them bottom of Group G with just one point after two games.

Dragan Stojkovic's team still has a chance, but they will need to defeat Switzerland in their last game on Friday to have any hope of making it to the round of 16 for the first time as an independent country.

But given that Serbia has already allowed five goals in just 180 minutes of play, its defensive performance in Qatar must raise some questions. Under Stojkovic, Serbia has only given up 20 goals in 21 games.

Particularly perplexing were the two appallingly executed offside traps that allowed Vincent Aboubakar to score Cameroon's second goal and set up their third, as well as the refusal to bring Dusan Vlahovic as they sought a winner.

Despite being one of Italy's most productive forwards in recent years, the Juventus striker has only played 24 minutes of football in Qatar, all of which came against Brazil. He has six goals in 10 Serie A games this season.

The pairing of Mitrovic and Vlahovic - with a combined 60 goals in 88 international games - was deployed several times in qualifying but Stojkovic has appeared reluctant to do so in Qatar.

But with victory against Switzerland essential, the time has surely come to hand Vlahovic his first start of the tournament, while Stojkovic will no doubt be drilling his back-three in training this week.

A quiet World Cup for Son?

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Heung-Min Son, one of the most lethal forwards in football, is exceptional for playing in the World Cup despite breaking his eye socket in the same month. He hasn't really led the South Korean line as well as we know he can, and that is the problem.

Son and his partner in crime, Harry Kane, are well-known throughout the world for their ability to create and score goals for Tottenham. Although they are both the captains of their respective countries, neither of them has scored in this World Cup.

In the first game, South Korea drew 0-0 with Uruguay, and in the second, they fell to Ghana, 3-2. Who was on the Asia team's scoreboard? Cho Gue-sung, a striker on loan at a Korean second-division team, scored both goals instead of Son.

Son is the top dog. Because of the scream the crowd produces whenever he participates, you can hear him on the ball before you can see the number. However, the celebrity is being overshadowed.

Is it a wound? Perhaps. You also question if the 30-year-old can handle the strain of becoming the player who leads his team through competitions in a manner akin to Messi or Ronaldo.

Kane and Son are superheroes when you bring them together, but while apart, it currently seems like their powers diminish.

Son was outshone as his team went down swinging against Ghana. South Korea's final chance against Portugal beckons and, like dawn, they will hope Son will rise and shine again.

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