Australia’s midfielder Mark Milligan (L) vies for the ball against Cameroon’s midfielder Andre Zambo during the 2017 Confederations Cup group B football match between Cameroon and Australia at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 22, 2017. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP
Australia captain Mark Milligan converted a second-half penalty in Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Cameroon in Saint Petersburg that left both teams heading for an early Confederations Cup exit.
Cameroon midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa scored with a superb flick on the stroke of half-time, but Milligan slotted home a spot-kick on 60 minutes as both sides picked up their first point in Group B.
The draw left both sides trailing Germany and Chile, who meet later in Kazan, and needing to win their final match to have any hope of reaching the semi-finals.
Cameroon play world champions Germany in Sochi on Sunday, while the Socceroos play Copa America holders Chile in Moscow.
Before Zambo Anguissa’s magical flick, there were few clear chances for both sides in an intense opening 45 minutes.
Hugo Broos’ Cameroon relied on long balls down the flanks, a tactic that led to the opening goal, while Australia’s brightest moments resulted in Robbie Kruse firing straight at Cameroon goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa.
Matt Ryan then held a shot from Cameroon skipper Benjamin Moukandjo following a deft back-heel from Vincent Aboubakar, but the opening goal was worth the wait.
A beautifully weighted pass down the right from centre-back Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui was brilliantly scooped by Zambo Anguissa over the advancing Ryan and into the net.
It was the fourth match in a row the Socceroos had conceded a goal either in the first or final minute of a half.
It should have been 2-0 to Cameroon on 57 minutes when Aboubakar fired a great chance wide, leaving Broos with his head in his hands on the sidelines, just before Australia equalised.
With an hour gone, Milligan tucked away a penalty after Alex Gersbach was brought down in the area by Cameroon right-back Ernest Mabouka.
The video assistant referee was consulted and confirmed the decision, with Milligan making no mistake with the spot-kick.
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou threw on Tim Cahill, the country’s all-time leading scorer with 48 goals, but the 37-year-old could not break the deadlock on his 99th international appearance.