RIGOBERT SONG sent first-choice keeper Andre Onana home after a row over playing style – but his Cameroon side might not be on the flight behind after all.
The Indomitable Lions lived up to their nickname with a stunning fightback from 3-1 down to keep their slim qualification hopes alive.
Vincent Aboubakar produced a wonderful scoop for Cameroon
Cameroon still have a chance of going through
Aleksandar Mitrovic thought he had won it for Serbia when he put them 3-1 ahead
Sublime substitute Vincent Aboubakar was the hero, turning the game on its head in three incredible minutes with a sensational lob before teeing up Eric Choupo-Moting.
An incredible game, Cameroon took the lead but looked dead and buried after goals from Strahinja Pavlovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
They still have to beat Brazil in their final group game to stand a chance of reaching the knockout stage for the first time since 1990.
And Serbia have a mountain to climb too after collapsing at the Al Janoub Stadium, needing a win against Switzerland to stay in the hunt.
Cameroon fans were shocked an hour before kick-off when there was no sign of Onana in the line-up.
Multiple reports stated the Inter Milan stopper was sent packing from Qatar after a row with head coach Song over their playing style, with David Epassy chucked in at the last minute.
And the central Africans could have been out of it within 17 minutes but for the woodwork and a shocking miss by Aleksandar Mitrovic.
And it looked like that clanger would prove costly for Serbia’s hopes when Jean-Charles Castelletto bundled a corner home at the back post after a flick-on from centre-back partner Nicolas Nkoulou.
But the Balkans shot back and struck twice in injury time to take a 2-1 lead into the break.
Pavlovic was first, out-muscling Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa to head Dusan Tadic’s free-kick beyond Devis Epassy.
While there was not much he could do with that one, his clanger put them behind moments later.
Minlinkovic-Savic’s strike from the top of the box was decent enough but the number two got a big hand on it diving to his left – only to deflect the ball into the corner.
And it looked like game, set and match 53 minutes in when Mitrovic finished off a stunning move.
Tadic won it on halfway, Mitrovic broke and four passes later he finished it off from close range.
But Cameroon – and Aboubakar in particular – were far from done.
Thrown on in desperation in the 55th minute, he narrowly beat the offside trap before a ridiculous scoop over giant 6ft 9in keeper Vanka Milinkovic-Savic, brother of Sergej.
It was given offside but overruled, and three minutes later he raced away in behind again, with Serbia all at sea, before squaring for Choupo-Moting to bury.
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Aboubakar, 30, plays in Saudi Arabia but was the top scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year with eight goals.
They could not find the winner but still have a fighting chance to escape Group G.
Jean-Charles Castelletto lost his marker to tap in at the back post
Strahinja Pavlovic powered in a superb header
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic turned the game on its head just before half-time
Mitrovic rounded off a superb passing move
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting buried at the back post to level it up
- Castelletto opened the scoring in the World Cup goal fest