Cameroon, Aussies end in stale­mate

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

ST PETERS­BURG: Aus­tralia and Cameroon played out a 1-1 stale­mate at the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup yes­ter­day that fur­ther dents both coun­tries’ hopes of pro­gress­ing in the eight-team tour­na­ment in Rus­sia.

An­dre Franck Zambo An­guissa had Cameroon ahead with the last touch of the first half, but a Mark Mil­li­gan penalty on the hour mark en­sured a first point for both in Group B at the new Saint Peters­burg Sta­dium.

Aus­tralia play Chile in Moscow on Sun­day and Cameroon face off against Ger­many at the same time in Sochi in their fi­nal pool matches.

But the chances for both the African and Asian cham­pi­ons to fin­ish in the top two and progress to the semi-fi­nals look slim af­ter they lost their open­ing en­coun­ters at the start of the week.

Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal’s 1-0 win over Rus­sia on Wed­nes­day has set the team on a clear path for the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup semi-fi­nals but the hosts are fac­ing an early exit.

To­mor­row, Rus­sia will face Mex­ico, who are tied with Por­tu­gal at the top of Group A on four points, in Kazan know­ing only a win will def­i­nitely be enough to carry them into the semi-fi­nals.

Por­tu­gal’s last match, also to­mor­row, is against al­ready elim­i­nated New Zealand in St Peters­burg and a point will guar­an­tee their berth in the last four with even a de­feat not nec­es­sar­ily fa­tal.

In ear­lier fix­tures Rus­sia de­feated New Zealand while Mex­ico and Por­tu­gal played out a draw.

The Por­tuguese will be with­out mid­fielder Raphael Guer­reiro, whose ac­cu­rate cross was headed in by star for­ward Cris­tiano Ron­aldo for the de­ci­sive early goal against Rus­sia, although fears he had frac­tured an an­kle have proved un­founded. His club, Borus­sia Dort­mund, stated he had only bruis­ing.

Rus­sia ap­peared some­what in­tim­i­dated fac­ing Por­tu­gal in the first half but picked up the pace in the sec­ond, put­ting more pres­sure on the op­po­si­tion de­fence but nev­er­the­less com­ing up short.

“We played much more flu­ently in the sec­ond half,” Rus­sia’s coach Stanislav Cherch­esov told re­porters. “We ap­peared less ap­pre­hen­sive.”

Cherch­esov said he was con­sid­er­ing ro­tat­ing some of the play­ers for the do-or-die match against Mex­ico.

Rus­sian goal­keeper Igor Ak­in­feev said it was a good game and noted that his col­leagues were rel­a­tively in­ex­pe­ri­enced as they build to­wards the 2018 home World Cup af­ter a dis­mal Euro 2016.

— dpa/Reuters

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