Muhammed Sanneh claimed to have equalised for the Gambia but replays showed he had pushed the ball into the goal with his hand and VAR intervened.
Cameroon staged a late fightback to snatch a place in the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations with a dramatic 3-2 win over the Gambia on Tuesday.
Christopher Wooh headed the winner in the first minute of injury time after the Gambia had hit back from 1-0 down to lead 2-1 heading into the closing stages of an eventful game in Bouake.
There was further drama to follow as Muhammed Sanneh claimed to have equalised for the Gambia but replays showed he had pushed the ball into the goal with his hand and VAR intervened.
The result – coupled with defeat for Guinea against Senegal in Group C’s other match – meant Cameroon, minutes after fearing elimination, leapt into an automatic qualification spot.
Karl Toko-Ekambi’s 56th-minute header looked to have settled Cameroon’s nerves after a poor opening half but the Gambia’s first goals of the tournament, from Abdoulie Jallow and Ebrima Colley, turned the game on its head.
It took an 87th-minute own goal from James Gomez to revive Cameroon’s hopes and Wooh had what proved the final say.
With no points from their opening two games, the Gambia went into the game with nothing to lose as they eyed qualification as one of the best third-placed teams.
They took the game to Cameroon with Ali Sowe forcing a good save from Fabrice Ondoa early on.
Cameroon created an opening after Wooh won possession in midfield but Toko-Ekambi’s shot on the turn was blocked.
Yankuba Minteh went close for the Gambia with a back-post header but Ondoa smothered his effort before also saving well from Musa Barrow.
Cameroon raised the tempo in the second half and should have taken the lead when the ball dropped invitingly for Georges-Kevin Nkoudou but he blasted against the bar.
Olivier Ntcham and Nouhou Tolo also spurned chances but the Indomitable Lions were rewarded when Toko-Ekambi glanced home from an Nkoudou cross.
That looked to have secured progress but the Gambia refused to give up hope.
Cameroon lost their composure and Sowe tested Ondoa before Jallow burst forward to guide in a volley from an Alieu Fadera cross.
Fadera then shot narrowly wide before Colley lashed in to give the Gambia the lead five minutes from time.
Cameroon roused themselves and Toko-Ekambi hit the bar before Gomez diverted a cross into his own goal.
Amid frantic scenes, Wooh then headed Cameroon back in front in stoppage time and they held on despite the scare of the referee initially missing Sanneh palming the ball into the net.