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Rodrigues backheels Cape Verde to crucial draw with Cameroon

Cape Verde recovered from conceding the opening goal to come back and draw hosts Cameroon 1-1 at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations on Monday. A sublime goal from winger Garry Rodrigues leveled the match in the second half and consolidated Cape Verde’s third-place finish in Group A on four points, likely enough to move the Blue Sharks into the Round of 16. Cameroon finish at the top of Group A on seven points with two wins and a draw.

The hosts looked more likely to win throughout the match but were not efficient with their finishing outside of star striker Vincent Aboubakar. Following a slow opening fifteen minutes, the competition’s leading scorer began to get heavily involved, volleying high and wide from twenty yards out in the 17th minute. Just after the half hour mark, it was the Indomitable Lions captain who muscled past Cape Verde center back Diney Borges before drawing a save from goalkeeper Vozinha.

In the 39th minute, Aboubakar scored his fifth goal of the competition in style for Cameroon’s initial breakthrough. A free kick into the Cape Verdean penalty area from Moumi Ngamaleu led to an aerial duel that resulted in the ball bouncing back towards the edge of the box. Aboubakar was first to react and struck a precise low finish past Vozinha for a real poacher’s finish to put Cameroon in the lead.

Concerning patches of play continue to show up for Cameroon, and the hosts lost their focus after taking the lead to allow Cape Verde back into the match. Just before halftime, goalkeeper André Onana had yet another worrying moment when he was challenged by Jamiro Monteiro for a cross and allowed the ball to fall to Stopira, who nearly poked the ball in from close range.

Despite having only one shot in the entire second half, Cape Verde made it count when they equalized in the 52nd minute. A well placed pass found midfielder Kenny Rocha Santos on the right side of the Cameroonian penalty area. Taking the ball down excellently, the Oostende player picked out Rodrigues with a low cross as the attacker made a run towards the near post. Rodrigues let the ball run behind him before backheeling a brilliant first-time finish past the frozen Onana.

The Indomitable Lions dominated the ball but failed to make much happen after conceding the leveler, and Cape Verde were just fine with the hosts taking their foot off the gas. Aboubakar had an excellent opportunity fall his way in the 66th minute when Vozinha spilled a cross right into the striker’s path, but Aboubakar sent his shot from ten yards out over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Both teams were content with the result in the end and outside of Aboubakar’s miss, there was little drama following Garry’s leveler. Highlights of the match are below. Cameroon will await a third-placed team from Group C, D or E in their Round of 16 match while Cape Verde await the other results to see if they will qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.

39′- Aboubakar opens scoring with his 5th goal of AFCON 2021

53′- Garry Rodrigues equalizes with brilliant backheel

66′- Aboubakar misses excellent opportunity to win it for the Indomitable Lions


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