Hosts Cameroon began their Africa Cup of Nations with a 2-1 victory over a spirited Burkina Faso on Sunday evening.
Vincent Aboubakar and Karl Toko-Ekambi started in the attack for the Indomitable Lions, while Bayern Munich’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Christian Bassogog started on the bench.
The host nation enjoyed a lot of the ball in the early parts of the first half, but they struggled to carve out any attempts at Herve Koffi’s goal in the opening 20 minutes.
Burkina Faso silenced the home fans in the 24th minute when Fabrice Gustavo Sangare was left un-marked at the far post to volley home a cross from Traore.
While Traore played a key role in the goal for his side, he went from hero to villain in the 37th minute when he brought down Aguissa in the box and the referee pointed to the spot after a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review. Aboubakar took responsibility and calmly slotted into the bottom corner.
The hosts were awarded a second penalty on the stroke of halftime when Issoufou Dayo brought down Nouhou Tolo in the box, which allowed Aboubakar to slot home once again to complete his brace.
The second half picked up from where the first left off, as the visitors went agonisinly close to breaking the deadlock when Adama Guira’s strike was cleared off the line on 55 minutes, while the hosts had a goal disallowed for offside five minutes later.
Cameroon opted for a double change for the final 20 minutes, as Choupo-Moting and Clinton N’Jie were introduced while Burkina Faso threw on Zakaria Sanogo and Mohamed Konate minutes later.
Aboubakar should have wrapped up the win with 13 minutes to go after being slipped down the right side of the box, however the Cameroon skipper sent his strike well over the target.
Nevertheless, Cameroon were not made to pay for that miss as they held on for maximum points in their Group A opener.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Moumi Ngamaleu (Cameroon): Ngamaleu was a threat throughout for his country, playing high up on the right for the team. It stretched Burkina Faso from the off, and they were noticeably tired later in the game, which could have been down to the fact he was always on the shoulder of the left-back, and probing for weakness. The Young Boys player was the difference in quality between the sides.
Cameroon: Andre Onana 6, Onguene 5, Ngadeu-Ngadjui 6, Tolo 6, Zambo 6, Fai 6, Gouet 6, Kunde 6, Ngamaleu 7, Aboubakar 7, Toko Ekambi 6. Substitutes: N’Jie 6, Bassogog 6, Choupo-Moting 6, Neyou 6.
Burkina Faso: Koffi 5, Kabore 5, Dayo 6, Yago 5, Malo 5, Guira 5, Toure 6, Bertrand Traore 7, Sangare 7, Bayala 6, Abdoul Tapsoba 6. Substitutes: Konate 6, Sanogo 6, Bande 6.
24’ – GOAL! Cameroon 0-1 Burkina Faso – Sangare scores! A corner is cleared off the line from Toure, Sangare has a shot that almost beats Onana, before a cross comes in from the right and Sangare is on hand to sidefoot a volley home at the back post.
41’ – GOAL! Cameroon 1-1 Burkina Faso. Aboubakar scores – A stop-start run-up sends the ‘keeper right, and the striker sends it the other way.
45+3’ – GOAL! Cameroon 2-1 Burkina Faso. Aboubakar scores – Another stuttering run-up and he sends the ‘keeper one way before firing to the other, his left.
47’ – TRAORE SHOT – Traore thunders in a free kick from about 40 yards, but it whips away from Onana at the death and he punches it away for a corner.
57’ – TRAORE FREE KICK – Traore fires in a low cross from the right with his left, which is blocked and out to Cyrille, a few yards out. He tries to stab home, and it’s saved! So close to a second.
59’ – GOAL! NO! Aboubakar runs forward, plays it right Ngamaleu who fires in at the ‘keeper, and the ball rebounds up and onto Aboubakar which might have been his hat-trick, but is ruled offside from the pass.