A double from Timo Werner, coming after Kerem Demirbay’s opener, ensured they beat Cameroon and finished top of Group B, meaning they will meet Mexico in the last four.
Ernest Mabouka was sent off for the Indomitable Lions, after the referee eventually corrected a case of mistaken identity with VAR, with Vincent Aboubakar’s goal between Werner’s two proving only a brief glimmer of hope.
Cameroon forced into last-minute reversal
After a win and a draw from their opening two games, Germany needed just a point to make certain of their place in the semi-finals. Cameroon, on the other hand, had just one point going into the game, and needed to win by two clear goals to have any chance of progressing.
Germany made four changes from the 1-1 draw with Chile. Hertha BSC’s Marvin Plattenhardt and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s Demirbay were given first international starts, with Antonio Rüdiger and Werner both coming in as well. Shkodran Mustafi, Jonas Hector, Leon Goretzka and Lars Stindl made way.
After sticking with the same eleven in their first two games, Cameroon intended to make a change after their own 1-1 draw against Australia on Thursday, with Arnaud Djoum set to be replaced by Georges Mandjeck in midfield. However Mandjeck was injured in the warm-up, so Djoum kept his place.
Germany wasteful as ter Stegen keeps out Aboubakar
Cameroon began the game brightly, but didn’t create the chances that their endeavour deserved. Their opponents took their time to get going, with Timo Werner having the only good chance of the first 20 minutes, denied to him by the offside flag.
They did start to dominate more after that, with Emre Can and Joshua Kimmich coming close. Can shot wide from the edge of the box after a ball back to him from Julian Draxler, whilst Kimmich should have broken the deadlock, heading wide from just in front of goal following an excellent cross from Plattenhardt.
Otherwise, they were being frustrated, and were limited to long-range efforts from Sebastian Rudy and Demirbay. Another dangerous cross from Plattenhardt just before the break presented another chance to Werner. He was offside, again, but Fabrica Ondoa blocked in any case.
Cameroon were threatening by this point too though. A dangerous free-kick from Benjamin Moukandjo was nudged wide by Rüdiger, whilst Aboubakar tried to test Marc-André ter Stegen from the halfway line, going wide. They came closest just before the break – Aboubakar’s cross found André-Frank Zambo Anguisa at the far post, with his shot awkward for ter Stegen, but the goalkeeper was able to put it over.
Demirbay strikes Germany ahead before referee’s VAR blunder
Germany took the lead with just over three minutes gone in the second half. Demirbay had another sighter go wide just before, but after an excellent combination with Draxler, who back flicked the one-two through the legs of Sebastien Siani, Demirbay curled an excellent strike into the top corner.
Germany looked fully on now, but couldn’t capitalise. Demirbay went over the bar, whilst Werner shot wide before Ondoa made a double save from both the RB Leipzig man and then Kimmich. Cameroon had two good chances too, with Aboubaker and substitute Moumi Ngamaleu putting both wide.
VAR then reared its way into proceedings again. Mabouka and Can both went with high feet to compete for a ball, with the Cameroonian making contact with Can, studs up. The referee Wilmar Roldán initially booked Siani though for the foul, before a review was recommended by the video assistants. After having the chance to view it again, he decided it was actually worthy of a red card, yet didn’t notice that Mabouka was the actual offender. He sent Siani off, but then was sent to have another look, eventually sending off the right man.
Werner makes the game safe despite scare
Playing with a man advantage, Germany wasted no time in extended their goal advantage too. Receiving a long ball from Niklas Süle, Kimmich put a good cross into the Cameroon box, and Werner this time made no mistake, despite a bit of improvisation in heading the ball into the ground to send it past Ondoa.
Cameroon looked to have made things interesting though with 12 minutes left. Ngamaleu put the cross in from the right, and Aboubakar headed it on goal, with ter Stegen flapping unconvincingly at the ball as it went in.
Werner and Julian Brandt were denied by Ondoa in the minutes after the goal, but he could do nothing about the third goal. Benjamin Henrichs and Brandt brought the ball down the right side, with Henrichs then setting up Werner the fire the ball home for his second of the match.
There was no comeback now for Cameroon, with Amin Younes coming close twice in the closing minutes to extending Germany’s lead. Germany thus sealed top spot in the group, as well as Löw’s one-hundredth win, to book a semi-final against Mexico in Sochi on Thursday. Cameroon go home.