Cameroon 2 England 3
Game No. 15 in the Football England
Top 20 best England World Cup matches
World Cup Quarter Final: Sunday July 1, 1990
Cameroon 2 England 3, after extra time.
Cameroon: T.N'Kono, B.Massing, B.Ebwelle, J.Kunde, S.Tataw, L.M'Fede (E.Ekeke), J.Pagal, T.Libiih, C.Makanaky, F.Oman Biyik, K.Maboang (R.Milla).
England: P.Shilton, P.Parker, S.Pearce, M.Wright, D.Walker, T.Butcher (T.Steven), D.Platt, C.Waddle, P.Gascoigne, G.Lineker, J.Barnes (P.Beardsley).
Match Report: The England Team had been going from strength to strength after being slated for their opening performance against the Republic of Ireland and would have been well pleased to be meeting Cameroon for a place in the last four where West Germany awaited the winners.
Cameroon had shown themselves to be fitfully brilliant during the tournament and had also committed some of the leading atrocities of the finals as well. An interesting night was in prospect.
The game began at a surprisingly leisurely pace with England dominating possession but posing no real threat. There was more danger on the occasions Cameroon ventured forward.
Libiih was first to put in a proper attempt but his header from M'Fede's centre was too high. Peter Shilton was required when Des Walker was fooled by a Pagal dummy which sent Oman Biyik away. England's veteran keeper managed to block his fierce attempt and was grateful to see M'Fede shoot wide when the ball rebounded to him 30 yards out.
England's approach play was becoming ever more pedestrian when they suddenly took the lead with a fine goal on 25 minutes.
Terry Butcher slipped a precise pass out to Stuart Pearce which allowed the wing back to power away from Tataw and deliver a raking ball to the far post where David Platt arrived unattended to score with a decisive downward header.
This inspired England to a better spell in which it seemed the Africans might be there for the taking after all. Paul Gascoigne began causing trouble with his driving runs from midfield and the scary Massing was booked for a bone jarring foul on Gary Lineker.
As half time approached, however, Cameroon had recovered from the blow of going behind and were again posing the bigger threat.
Libiih was again off target from a centre while Oman Biyik spared England when his control let him down whilst in the clear.
England were happy to lead at the break but they had not convinced. It was all still to play for in the second half.
Half Time: Cameroon 0 England 1
Both sides made a change at the interval with England putting Peter Beardsley on in place of John Barnes who had aggravated his groin problem and Cameroon sending on their ageing talisman Roger Milla. Milla's introduction would have a profound influence on the course of the game.
England started the half brightly with Lineker heading just over but gradually Cameroon began to get increasingly on top.
It was on a break that David Platt went down in the area only to be denied a clear looking penalty. The decision was to spark an incredible siege by Cameroon which saw them take the lead and threaten to dismiss England altogether.
Straight from the incident with Platt play switched to the other end and when Milla went to ground as he surged past Gascoigne in the box a penalty was forthcoming. In fairness to the referee there was no doubting this decision.
Kunde showed no nerves whatsoever in sending a sweet penalty into the corner of Shilton's goal and Cameroon were deservedly level.
Galvanised the Africans swarmed forward. England's new defensive formation began to fall apart as Cameroon poured forward from all angles. Makanaky broke through to shoot just wide before an amazing burst of short passing saw the substitute Ekeke race through to calmly lift his shot over Shilton and put Cameroon in front.
The two goals had been scored inside five minutes and worse was threatened as Cameroon continued to attack with abandon. Shilton was required to save smartly from Oman Biyik and Makanaky while Butcher and Pearce both earned bookings for somewhat desperate fouls as the pressure became intense.
Some respite was gained as Trevor Steven replaced Butcher and England achieved something like parity in midfield as they switched to a more usual 4-4-2 formation.
Gascoigne played Platt in but his finish was slightly wide of the target. In another dangerous raid at the other end, however, England were relieved to see a close range back heel by Oman Biyik rebound to safety off Shilton.
With an entire nation becoming frantic salvation arrived eight minutes from time. An England free kick was only half cleared and when the ball was returned to Mark Wright the centre half showed a lovely touch in cushioning a ball into Lineker's path. As the England striker bolted for goal he was comprehensively taken out by Kunde. It was an obvious penalty.
It was an extremely tense moment, I know I had to leave my seat in front of the tele and go and stare out of the window. I could still see the reflection of the the screen in the window as Lineker belted his shot into the corner of the net with N'Kono going the wrong way.
The game ended with Mark Wright off the field being treated for a nasty head wound after clashing with Milla and Shilton having to make a fine save low down from Oman Biyik.
Full Time: Cameroon 2 England 2
Wright resumed, stitched and bandaged, to take a position on the wing with Steven filling in at right back and Paul Parker moving to centre half alongside the limping Des Walker. It was hardly ideal but such things seemed hardly to matter by this stage. Nothing in this game had gone according to plan.
Extra time began with another awesome wave of Cameroon pressure with attacks raining on England from all directions. Shilton made another save from Oman Biyik and then the same player shot high from a good position.
You could feel the pressure all the way back home in England and the next attack seemed certain to see England concede. The defence was again shredded and the ball was bobbling along the goalline with seemingly the entire Cameroon side swarming in for the kill. Only Trevor Steven, facing his own goal and underneath the crossbar, stood in their way. Somehow, perhaps with the help of a little shimmy, Steven emerged to the right in possession of the ball with the Cameroon attack loping off in the wrong direction in much confusion.
It was a moment I will always remember Trevor Steven fondly for.
With the first period of extra time almost up Gascoigne produced another of his defence splitting balls to send Lineker away. This one had been absolute perfection, drawing the last defender into a futile lunging interception that was never on. Lineker was absolutely clear.
England's striker took the ball right up to N'Kono and was then felled as he made his way round him. Despite the protests it was another cast iron penalty.
This time Lineker drove his kick right down the centre as the giant keeper obligingly dived out of the way. You could tell Lineker wanted to belt the ball back into the net as it rebounded towards him but he wisely thought better of it as the obviously miffed N'Kono lunged forward to gather it himself.
No matter, it was 3-2 to England and Lineker wheeled away in joyous mood with Peter Beardsley attached to his neck. Happy times.
This goal knocked the stuffing out of Cameroon and England finished the game in control and threatening to add a fourth goal.
Gascoigne waltzed past three defenders before sending Lineker away again but this time the striker opted to shoot and was fractionally wide. Then Steven forced his way forward to send in an inviting centre which Platt and Lineker both dived at but could not reach.
There was a momentary scare at the other end as Milla sent in a shot but when this was deflected behind for a corner which was subsequently cleared England were home and into the semi finals.
Bobby Robson acknowledged the part played in a gripping game by Cameroon when he admitted "We didn't under-estimate them but they still surprised us and they are unlucky to be out."
Fair point, but who cared? England were now contemplating their first World Cup semi final for 24 years and relishing the prospect of dragging their aching bodies to Turin to do battle with the Germans.
The story of that one will be told another day.
Full Time, aet: Cameroon 2 England 3