Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Brazil beat Serbia to book date with Mexico in round of 16

Brazil are in action against Serbia at the World Cup on Wednesday Brazil are in action against Serbia at the World Cup on Wednesday
Tamara Craig | 28 June, 2018, 10:10

The magic playmaker made an assist in Brazil's 2-0 win over Serbia on Wednesday.

Two more goals were scored in the final moments of the game, with Josip Drmic's strike cancelled out by a Yann Sommer own goal, which meant Costa Rica would head back home with at least a point to their kitty.

Neymar's initial impact was one of colourful but unnecessary touches, although he nearly sent the Brazilian support into ecstasy prior to the interval when he shaped up on the edge of the box, only to see his speculative, curling effort whistle just over the bar.

Switzerland, 2-2 winners over Costa Rica finished second and will now face Denmark, who overhauled Mexico at the top of Group F on goal difference having crushed the North Americans 3-0.

Both of Brazil's goals came when Serbia threatened to get back into the match.

Brazil conjured the opener from nothing when a beautifully lofted pass from Philippe Coutinho found Paulinho, who flicked the ball over Stojkovic's reach on 36 minutes to make it 1-0 at the break.

Goals either side of half time from Paulinho and Thiago Silva at the Spartak Stadium ensured that Tite's charges marched into the last 16 with relative ease, while condemning Mladen Krstajic's Serbian side to group-stage elimination.

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Then with his defence beaten, Brazil goalkeeper Alisson palmed a save straight at Aleksandar Mitrovic, but the Serbia forward could only head the ball back into the grateful arms of the Brazilian shotstopper.

Neymar, another who wasn't on the pitch in the semifinals of the 2014 Fifa World Cup, this time through injury, was his usual theatrical self, but that was also mingled with some quality, although there were a few missed opportunities there.

This was a more assured performance from Brazil compared to its first two group matches.

Serbia, who needed a win to stand a realistic chance of qualification, just could not find their attacking mojo, with Brazil, again, showing why they have such a strong defensive record under Tite. The victory was good for first place.

Having opened his Russian Federation 2018 account with the second of Brazil's two late goals in Friday's 2-0 win over Costa Rica, Neymar was again impressive.

Concerns were raised about his emotional state when he sank to the ground sobbing after scoring an injury time goal against Costa Rica, with pundits in Brazil fearing he could crack under pressure to deliver in Russian Federation.

Mitrovic's shot had gone behind Alisson and was heading toward goal, but Silva got there in time to clear it away.

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