World Cup 2014: Croatia beats Cameroon 4-0 - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

World Cup 2014: Croatia beats Cameroon 4-0

Posted: Updated:
Croatia's Danijel Pranjic, right, slides underneath Cameroon's Benjamin Moukandjo during the group A World Cup soccer match between Cameroon and Croatia at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Croatia's Danijel Pranjic, right, slides underneath Cameroon's Benjamin Moukandjo during the group A World Cup soccer match between Cameroon and Croatia at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
MANAUS, Brazil (AP) — Like any good goal scorer, Mario Mandzukic was in the right place at the right time.

Twice.

The Croatia striker returned from suspension Wednesday and scored the final two goals in a 4-0 World Cup rout of an undermanned and somewhat out of control Cameroon.

SLIDESHOW: Photos from World Cup 2014

"I was well prepared and had more time to prepare because I missed the first game. I had some extra training," said Mandzukic, who got a red card in the playoffs and missed the opening match. "I don't want to think too much about goals. We wanted to win, and the goals came as a reward."

Cameroon started the Group A match without the injured Sameul Eto'o, and finished it without midfielder Alex Song. With the score only 1-0, Song was given a red card in the 40th minute for elbowing Mandzukic in the back in an off-the-ball incident.

Things got even more bizarre in injury time as the frustration within the team boiled over when Benoit Assou-Ekotto head-butted teammate Benjamin Moukandjo in front of their goal.

"It's unimaginable. I saw this happen and I need to find out exactly what happened, why exactly these two players exploded," Cameroon coach Volker Finke said. "I really hate to see that. It's not the image of Cameroon I want to project."

The result puts Croatia right back in the mix for a spot in the second round. If the 1998 semifinalists beat Mexico on Monday, they will guarantee themselves another match in Brazil. The Mexicans will advance with only a draw.

Cameroon is out, however, and can only play spoiler in its final match against five-time champion Brazil, also on Monday. If the 1990 World Cup quarterfinalists beat Brazil, the host country could still advance or be forced out of the tournament on goal difference.

Mandzukic headed in a corner from Danijel Pranjic in the 61st minute and then knocked in a rebound off a shot from Eduardo in the 73rd.

Both goals came as a result of being either perfectly placed, or luckily placed.

"He's not just a goal getter, a goal scorer," Croatia coach Niko Kovac said. "His attitude picks his team up and affects the opposing team."

Earlier, Ivan Perisic set up Ivica Olic for the opening goal in the 11th, and he then scored the second himself in the 48th.

Cameroon knew it needed points against Croatia, and the team came out fast in an effort to take the early lead. Several dangerous attacks down the right flank caused concern to the Croatia defense early, but none of them materialized into any real danger.

"Tactically, we didn't open the match well the first 10 minutes. We had some problems on the left flank," Kovac said. "But then we scored a very important goal."

The loss of Eto'o, who came to Brazil with a right knee injury, was a blow to the team, however. Although Cameroon still went on the attack even without their best attacker, the finishing class of the former Chelsea and Barcelona striker was missing.

The loss of Song didn't help, either.

The midfielder, well away from the ball, was running back from the Croatia end when he lashed out and elbowed Mandzukic in the back. Referee Pedro Proenca of Portugal immediately pulled out his red card and sent Song off.

"The team tried with only 10 players, but the second goal arrived very early in the second half, unfortunately," Finke said. "After that it was an uphill battle."

Song is the cousin of Cameroon great Rigobert Song, one of only two players to be sent off at two different World Cups. The other is Zinedine Zidane.

  • UAB SportsMore>>

  • UAB cruises to 48-10 win over Troy in season opener

    UAB cruises to 48-10 win over Troy in season opener

    Saturday, August 30 2014 10:29 PM EDT2014-08-31 02:29:34 GMT
    Cody Clements passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, while Jordan Howard rushed for two more in helping the University of Alabama-Birmingham beat Troy University 48-10 on Saturday.More >>
    Cody Clements passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, while Jordan Howard rushed for two more in helping the University of Alabama-Birmingham beat Troy University 48-10 on Saturday.
    More >>
  • Fans ready for start of football season

    Fans ready for start of football season

    Thursday, August 28 2014 7:45 AM EDT2014-08-28 11:45:46 GMT
    For some people, tonight is just as exciting as Christmas Eve! Thursday kicks off the college football season. Many fans have been counting down the days.More >>
    For some people, tonight is just as exciting as Christmas Eve! Thursday kicks off the college football season. Many fans have been counting down the days.
    More >>
  • UAB names Cody Clements starting quarterback vs Troy

    UAB names Cody Clements starting quarterback vs Troy

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 3:13 PM EDT2014-08-26 19:13:29 GMT
    UAB will open the season with Cody Clements at quarterback. Clements, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College in California, beat out redshirt freshman Jeremiah Briscoe for the starting job.More >>
    UAB will open the season with Cody Clements at quarterback. Clements, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College in California, beat out redshirt freshman Jeremiah Briscoe for the starting job.More >>
  • All other Local CollegesMore>>

  • Samford coach Pat Sullivan will not travel with team to TCU

    Samford coach Pat Sullivan will not travel with team to TCU

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 2:59 PM EDT2014-08-27 18:59:15 GMT
    Samford football coach Pat Sullivan will miss Saturday's season opener against TCU. The school announced that Sullivan has been advised against traveling by doctors while he recovers from offseason surgery."Unfortunately I will not be able to make the trip with my Samford team this weekend for our game against TCU," Sullivan said in a statement released through the school. "My doctors have advised me not to travel at this time due to a complication from a surgery earlier this year. We have an...More >>
    Samford football coach Pat Sullivan will miss Saturday's season opener against TCU. The school announced that Sullivan has been advised against traveling by doctors while he recovers from offseason surgery."Unfortunately I will not be able to make the trip with my Samford team this weekend for our game against TCU," Sullivan said in a statement released through the school. "My doctors have advised me not to travel at this time due to a complication from a surgery earlier this year. We have an...More >>
  • No. 8 Michigan State readies defense for opener against JSU

    No. 8 Michigan State readies defense for opener against JSU

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 7:54 PM EDT2014-08-26 23:54:33 GMT
    Mark Dantonio cares more about how Michigan State plays than how many plays Jacksonville State can run with its fast-tempo offense in Friday's season opener for both teams.More >>
    Mark Dantonio cares more about how Michigan State plays than how many plays Jacksonville State can run with its fast-tempo offense in Friday's season opener for both teams.
    More >>
  • TCU to play both QBs in opener against Samford

    TCU to play both QBs in opener against Samford

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 7:45 PM EDT2014-08-26 23:45:15 GMT
    Trevone Boykin is in the same position he was last year with TCU, again part of the unanswered question of who will be the starting quarterback only days before the season opener against Samford.More >>
    Trevone Boykin is in the same position he was last year with TCU, again part of the unanswered question of who will be the starting quarterback only days before the season opener against Samford.
    More >>