Max Grieve reviews a game he watched so you didn’t have to, as Cameroon took on Chile in the opening match of Group B at the 2017 Confederations Cup.

What Happened:

2015 and 2016 Copa América winners Chile beat 2017 African Cup of Nations winners Cameroon 2-0 this morning, and it’s a good thing that they did because I’m not going to waste your time pretending like I know anything about Cameroon now that Eto’o and Song aren’t in the picture any more. This isn’t to say I don’t care about African football – on the contrary, I actually opened up my first betting account just so I could use the company’s live streaming service to watch the African Cup of Nations in 2013. In my defence, Cameroon didn’t take part, but I digress.

Eduardo Vargas hit the post before Cameroon had a goal ruled out for grappling in the box, Arturo Vidal hitting the floor under fairly minimal pressure from Collins Fai. Vargas had the ball in the back of the net in the closing minutes of the first half, but on review was adjudged to have been offside when Arturo Vidal played him through on goal, and both sides went in level at the break.

Alexis Sanchez came on just before the hour to provide the cross for Vidal’s opener in the 81st minute, before Vargas sealed the win in injury time after a video review overturned the linesman’s call of an offside in the buildup. A 2-0 scoreline reflected a solid performance from a Chilean side with far more to give than they managed here, while the Cameroonians were left to wonder what might have been had the video officials decided differently.

Talking Points

The only way I can think to articulate the following point is to go full-Chen, and say that the video review of Vargas’ injury-time goal hurt football: ‘what the game gained in a goal, it lost in the magic of human error,’ I can imagine him saying. Sanchez was almost certainly offside in the leadup to Vargas’ goal, something which was picked up the linesperson, but not the official watching the video replay. Playing with an element of human error is always going to be more enjoyable than the stop-start tedium of video reviews, at least until it comes around to help the Socceroos out.

Goal of the Day

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Vidal’s late opener was technically the better of the game’s two goals, a clean header from a pinpoint cross to give Chile a deserved advantage. Their second saw Sanchez skip through the midfield and around the goalkeeper before having his shot blocked by a diving Cameroonian defender, only for Vargas to pounce on the rebound before the whole thing was called back for offside, then called for a video review, then called as a goal. Video technology doesn’t just break up the game, it breaks up an easy, simple description of the play, too.

Miss of the Day

Mauricio Isla should have opened the scoring when found himself on the end of a corner that missed Vargas at the near post, but he reacted a fraction of a second too late and sent his header spinning across goal.

What It Means

Australia might not make it out of the group, but we can at least end Cameroon’s hopes of doing the same if we beat them in a few days’ time. For Chile, a point from their next two games could conceivably see them through to the semi-finals, but they should be confident of getting a result against Germany, and are more than capable of dealing with Australia as they did three years ago in Brazil.

What’s Next

Cameroon travel to Saint Petersburg on Friday morning (a little after midnight AEST), where they’ll need to beat Australia to have any real chance of getting through to the semi-finals. Chile, meanwhile, head to Kazan to take on Germany in a match that shapes up as the most anticipated of the group stages.

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