Cameroon and Italy both knew coming into Wednesday's final Group D match in Tianjin that a draw would see both of them through to the quarter-finals. And after a first half of attack and creativity, the second degenerated into something of a non-aggression pact with both sides happy to share the spoils and move on.
The early exchanges were dominated by the creative energies of the newest big thing in Italian football, 20-year-old fantasista Sebastian Giovinco. His elegant first touch, dribbling and wonderful distribution had the Italians looking dangerous throughout the first half.
Despite the diminutive playmaker's best efforts it was the talented and physical Africans who had the opening period's best chance when, in the 14th minute, Salvatore Bocchetti of Genoa handled inside his own penalty area. Aurelien Chedjou then stepped up to take the spot kick only to be denied by Italian keeper Emiliano Viviano, who guessed right and dove right to palm away the tame try.
The Italians, with a raft of changes from their last game against Korea Republic, benefitted next from a bit of Cameroonian Indiscipline when a rough tackle on Italian captain Antonio Nocerino saw Georges Mandjeck pick up a straight red in the 32nd minute. The Europeans then nearly capitalised ten minutes from the interval after a bit of good wing play from Lorenzo De Silvestri, but Giuseppe Rossi had his shot blocked and Robert Acquafresca failed to convert the second attempt.
With Korea needing a hatful of goals against Honduras in the Group's other game (played in Shenyang), both the Italians and the Cameroonians seemed happy enough to settle for a draw, which would take Italy through as section winners and Cameroon through as runners-up.