By Liam Morgan |
Brazilian star Neymar lived up to his billing as he scored one goal and played a key role in the other in a comfortable 2-0 victory over Mexico to send the five-time winners through to the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The world’s most expensive footballer scored from close-range following a well-worked move to give Brazil the lead five minutes into the second half at the Samara Arena.
Neymar then turned provider as his prodded effort was pushed into the path of Roberto Firmino, who was on hand to tap into the empty net to seal Brazil’s quarter-final berth.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward’s goal made Brazil the World Cup’s all-time scoring leaders with 227, surpassing Germany’s tally of 226.
They are due to meet either Belgium or Japan, who play this evening in Rostov, in what will be their seventh consecutive World Cup quarter-final.
Defeat for Mexico continued their dreadful knockout run as they have now been eliminated from the World Cup at the last 16 stage in each of the last seven tournaments – 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.
Mexico began the brighter of the two sides and looked dangerous early in the first-half but were unable to turn their dominance into goals.
Brazil has failed to reach the attacking heights of previous teams but their defense remained firm to ensure they went into the break level at 0-0.
It took only five minutes for the South American side to go ahead as Neymar finished off a move full of Brazilian flair.
Neymar backheeled the ball to Willian, who surged beyond the Mexican defense before his cross-shot was turned home by the PSG striker.
The goal came moments after Mexico’s Jesus Gallardo wasted a brilliant chance when he shot wildly over the crossbar.
It was a rare moment of promise for Mexico in the second half as Brazil took control and they were eventually rewarded with a second two minutes from time.
Neymar tried to poke through the legs of Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, whose touch diverted the ball away from goal and straight to the feet of Firmino.
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.