Switzerland edged past Cameroon 1-0 thanks to an against-the-play goal by Cameroonian-born Breel Embolo on Thursday for an opening win in World Cup Group G.
Born in Yaounde but raised in Basel, Embolo struck three minutes into the second half after receiving the ball from a Xherdan Shaqiri cut.
The 25-year-old forward refused to celebrate his goal as the small group of Swiss fans cheered wildly at Al Janoub Stadium.
Serbia will play in the other group match against Brazil later on Thursday.
The Swiss goal came after Cameroon, who had not won the World Cup in 20 years, dominated the first half but missed several good chances to take the lead.
Eliminating Algeria in a play-off to qualify for the tournament, the Indomitable Lions had beaten the Swiss in the first 45 minutes with quick combinations, speed and physicality while their opponents up front remained toothless.
After 10 minutes, they scored their first chance with Bryan Mbeumo testing goalkeeper Yann Sommer, but Karl Toko Ekambi fired the rebound over the crossbar.
Moments later, the Swiss were in trouble again when the on-form Cameroonian striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting snatched an opponent’s ball to charge into the penalty area, after which Sommer was able to clear the field.
Cameroon continued to face their opponents in one-on-one situations, while the Swiss rarely managed to get into their opponents’ penalty area.
Switzerland, who reached the round of 16 in the two previous World Cups, struck at the start of the second half with Shaqiri cutting into the penalty area and moving in Embolo to prove the winner.
An almost identical move just after the hour mark saw the Swiss almost score again, but Ruben Vargas’ shot was pushed wide by keeper Andre Onana.