Goals from Ivica Olic, Ivan Perisic and a double by Mario Mandzukic gave Croatia a thoroughly deserved four nil triumph over a gutless Cameroon side who had Alex Song sent off for a senseless first half punch on brace bagger Mandzukic.
After an opening ten minutes dominated by Cameroon, it was Croatia who hit the front with their first sight on goal. A right wing cross to Mario Mandzukic by Darijo was cleared partially by Nicolas N’Koulou but only as far as Ivan Perisic. The Wolfsburg winger shaped to shoot before cutely squaring the ball to club team mate and vastly experienced international Olic who brushed the ball into net past despairing former Gornik Zabrze stopper Charles Itandje.
Six minutes later Croatia should have been two in front as a Daniel Pranjic corner was not dealt with and fell to Mandzukic. The striker chested it into the path of Perisic at the edge of the six yard box but the midfielder buckled in front of goal, striking a disappointing effort wide of Itandje’s well-guarded post.
Ten minutes from halftime, a single moment summed up Cameroon’s performance. They were lax in possession, gifting the ball to Perisic who found Olic on the left. He crossed, a Croat player was nowhere in sight. So, under no pressure, Itandje caught the ball, dropped it and conceded a corner. From that corner Perisic again went close with a volley as Cameroon continued to struggle.
Five minutes before the break, things went from bad to catastrophic for the Africans. As Croatia broke from a Cameroon attack which was ended when two Cameroonian players got in each other’s way. Alex Song chased Mandzukic, who did not even have the ball, and struck him in the back. The punch sent the Bayern striker to the ground and referee Pedro Proenca was left with no option but to show the Barcelona man his marching orders.
The second half started for Cameroon in a similar fashion to the whole first half for them, critical errors constantly stifling their progress. That was most prevalent just two minutes after the break as Itandje cleared the ball straight to Perisic. The former double winner at Borussia Dortmund outran Stephane M’Bia before smashing the ball past the under par Itandje with ease to double to Croat lead.
Just a moment removed from the hour mark, it was three for the men in the red and white chessboard shirts. A Croat corner was semi cleared, it fell to the phenomenal Luka Modric, he swept the ball to Pranjic, whose cross was cleared for another corner. The Panathinaikos man took it himself and found the head of the uncontested Mandzukic as he bulleted a header past Itandje to all but kill off Cameroon.
Hot off his first goal of the tournament, Mandzukic was in the right place at the right time to bag a second. Mateo Kovacic and Eduardo had entered the fray moments earlier and the former set up the latter for a shot. It was typically weakly parried by Itandje into the path of Mandzukic who made no mistake with the simple finish past the helpless keeper.
Sub Pierre Webo thought he had pulled a consolation back for Cameroon only for the crossbar to deny him. In the aftermath of the chance teammates Benoit Assou Ekotto and Benjamin Moukandjo went head to head in a moment which summed up a disparaging 90 minutes for Cameroonian football. Croatia progress to a showdown with Mexico in Recife next Monday while Cameroon bow out.
Cameroon: Charles Itandje; Stephane M’Bia, Nicolas N’Koulou, Aurelien Cheydou (Dany Nounkeu 46), Benoit Assou-Ekotto; Joel Matip; Alex Song, Eyong Enoh; Eric Maxim Choupo Moting (Edgar Salli 75), Vincent Aboubakar (Pierre Webo 70), Benjamin Moukandjo.
Sent off: Song (40)
Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa; Darijo Srna, Dejan Lovren, Vedran Corluka, Daniel Pranjic; Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric; Ivan Perisic (Ante Rebic 78), Sammir (Mateo Kovacic 72), Ivica Olic (Eduardo Da Silva 69); Mario Mandzukic.
Booked: Eduardo (90)
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)
Extratime.com Man of the Match: Ivan Perisic (Croatia)