Friday, November 16, 2018

Brazil 2-0 Mexico: Neymar and Firmino strikes just enough for Seleção to edge into quarter-finals

Daniel Orme in Editorial, General Soccer News, World Cup 2 Jul 2018

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Brazil booked their place in the World Cup quarter-finals with a hard-fought 2-0 victory against Mexico on Monday afternoon.

Tite’s troops were made to work for their victory but Neymar scored only six minutes after half-time by prodding home Willian’s low cross. Roberto Firmino then slotted home in the closing stages to round off a positive Brazilian victory and consign Mexico to a last-16 exit for the seventh successive tournament.

Solid start from both sides

Mexico enjoyed a great start in Samara and should have taken the lead when Alisson punched Andrés Guardado’s cross straight to Hirving Lozano. The PSV man chested the ball down and struck for goal only to see a great block from Miranda deflect it away.

Neymar had his first sight of goal not long afterwards but his shot was comfortably palmed away by Guillermo Ochoa.

Hector Herrera did excellently to find space on the edge of the area mid-way through the first-half for Mexico. He dragged the ball onto his left foot, but that only served to give the Brazilians time and he was quickly closed down before his shot reached goal.

Brazil start to threaten

Despite the early Mexican chances, Brazil still looked dangerous on the counter-attack. Star-man Neymar wriggled free from his marker and forced a good stop from Ochoa before a free-kick caused havoc in the penalty area. Gabriel Jesus’ shot was cleared by Edson Álvarez, with Phillipe Coutinho firing over the crossbar.

Juan Carlos Osorio’s men continued to live dangerously in the first-half. Jesus again tested the Mexican goalkeeper, with the rebound quickly being cleared before it was fired into the net by Neymar or Paulinho.
Unsurprisingly, it was Tite’s men who had the first opportunity of the second-half as Coutinho again manufactured space and looked for goal with a shot that was confidently beaten away by Ochoa.

Neymar nudges Brazil ahead

The Brazilians were not to be denied though and of course it was Neymar who opened the scoring with a close-range finish. Following a back-heel to release Willian on the edge if the box, the Paris Saint Germain star got himself in front of goal to prod home the Chelsea man’s excellent, low cross at the back post that had curled just inches away from Jesus’ boot.

Paulinho should have netted a second as he collected Fagner’s cross when unmarked in the penalty area but he fired straight at Ochoa.

Carlos Vela then tried his luck from distance as Mexico attempted to find a foothold but Alisson did well to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Ochoa keeps Mexico in the game

Brazil continued to go for the jugular with their pace crating plenty of problems for Brazil. Willian thundered an effort towards goal but a solid stop from Ochoa again kept the advantage at one goal.

More trickery from the winger again saw Neymar presented with a chance but he put his shot from the centre of the box just wide of the post.

Layun lucky to escape with no punishment

Heading into the final quarter of the game, Miguel Layún, who came on at half-time, was fortunate to escape a red card. With the ball out of play, the FC Porto man appeared to tread on the ankle of Neymar. However, no punishment was dished out.

It did not hamper Brazil all too much however as they netted a second with only minutes left on the clock. Firmino, who had replaced Coutinho, played the predatory role as he tapped the ball home following Ochoa’s save from Neymar’s close range effort. As a result, Brazil booked their place in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Final Thoughts

It was not exactly a vintage performance from Brazil but they did all that was required to book their place in the last-eight. They did create some chances after a quick Mexico start and were probably fortunate to have two tap-ins to win the game.

However, Mexico did tire and were not enough of a threat to get past their more illustrious opponents. Tite’s men now set up a quarter-final tie with either Belgium or Japan.

Match Report

Brazil: Alisson (7); Filipe Luís (6), Miranda (7), Silva (7), Fagner (7); Paulinho (7) (Fernandinho (N/A), 80′), Casemiro (7), Coutinho (7) (Firmino (7), 86′); Neymar (8), Jesus (7), Willian (8) (Marquinhos (N/A), 90+1′).

Mexico: Ochoa (7); Gallardo (6), Salcedo (6), Ayala (5), Álvarez (6) (J. dos Santos (5), 55′), Herrera (6), Márquez (6) (Layún (5), 46′), Guardado (6); Lozano (6), Hernández (5) (Jimenez (5), 60′), Vela (5).

Goals: Neymar (51′), Firmino (88′)

Referee: Gianlucha Rocchi

Yellow Cards: Filipe Luís (43′), Hererra (55′), Casemiro (59′), Salcedo (77′), Guardado (90+2′)

Red Cards: N/A

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Orme


Daniel is currently a second-year football journalism student at the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately four years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.

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