Still not a sparkling Brazil the one seen yesterday in Samara, but a solid and concrete team. That was enough for the Selecao to move into the Quarter Finals, in a World Cup with a keen for brusquely showing the exit door to most of the favorite teams. Coach Tite’s selection moved past Mexico with goals by Neymar and Roberto Firmino, pushing El Tri out of the Round of 16 for the 7th time in a row.
Business as usual for the Tricolores, who had shocked the world by stunning Germany in their opening game, only to gradually fade away and ending their run at the habitual stop – the wall of the sweet sixteen. Coach Juan Manuel Osorio gave a few headaches to Brazil during the initial 25 minutes, and Guillermo Ochoa confirmed to be a great goalkeeper, at least whenever he sees a yellow and blue Brazilian outfit in front of him (four years ago, El Tri had held Brazil onto a goalless draw in the Group Stage, mostly thanks to their keeper’s saves).
But a stunning front line featuring Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, and young sensation Hirving Lozano, called for a different outcome, especially in view of the fact that first two have probably wasted their last chance to break through in a World Cup, due to their age. Mexicans must be biting their lips now, thinking at how badly they lost their last Group Stage match to Sweden: All it would have taken was one point, to get delivered an objectively easier Round of 16 game than the one with the Selecao.
Brazil seldom fail their in-or-out games, and yesterday they remembered the world that they are always a strong candidate to the title, despite having to renounce to their starting side backs. Filipe Luis in place of the injured Marcelo was the only change in Tite’s usual lineup, as Fagner had already taken the missing Danilo’s spot before the Word Cup started.
Neymar called Ochoa to an early save in the 5th minute already, but the beginning of the game saw the Mexicans pushing more. Lozano produced an impressive acceleration from the right side, but El Chicharito Hernandez missed to convert from his pass. The match in Samara was vibrant and pleasant to watch: In the 24th minute, Ochoa had to save again from Neymar penetrating in his area from the right. Then it was Gabriel Jesus’ turn to test the Mexican goleiro, the Manchester City striker still looking for his first World Cup goal. Mexico’s defense eventually cleared on a further attempt by Philippe Coutinho.
Coach Osorio ordered Vela and Lozano to switch their positions in an attempt to diversify their offensive solutions, but chances for Mexico to score actually ended as referee Gianluca Rocchi blew the half time whistle. The second half was mostly a Brazilian monologue, interrupted at times by Guillermo Ochoa’s additional saves.
Five minutes after the break, a powerful progression by Wilian on the left flank produced a golden pass for O Ney, who only had to push the ball into the Mexican net to wrap the goal that broke the balance. Neymar thus scored his first goal in a World Cup knock-out phase, but much of the credit for it went to Chelsea’s midfielder, and was the start of an impressive second half for him.
Midfielder Casemiro scored a painful yellow card – painful for him and for his team, as the booking will force him to miss the upcoming Quarter Finals game against Belgium. Layun risked hard for the Mexican side as well, when he stomped on the ankle of an irritating Neymar, provoking his frankly comical simulation of an injury. O Ney’s farce last almost two minutes, but Layun did make his foul, and probably deserved at least a yellow.
Ochoa continued to say no to the Brazilian shooters whenever he could, frustrating further attempts from Paulinho and Wilian, but couldn’t do anything in the 87th minute, when an acceleration by Neymar on the left side turned into a shot / pass for Roberto Firmino in the middle of the box. Liverpool’s striker put it in for the final 2-0, but great job on the occasion was also made by substitute Fernandinho, who recovered the ball at midfield, and promptly launched the counterattack.
Mexico left Russia after collecting their 7th consecutive elimination in a World Cup Round of 16, and failed once again to score a single goal to Brazil in a world tournament match. Two unbroken curses that will continue to haunt the Mexican dreams for at least four more years. A real shame, as this time Mexico had really deluded their fans and the whole world of football, that this edition could be the right one.
July 2, 2018 – World Cup Round of 16
SCORERS: 50′ Neymar, 89′ Firmino
|BRAZIL (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Fagner, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Filipe Luís; Paulinho (79′ Fernandinho), Casemiro; Willian (91′ Marquinhos) , Coutinho (86′ Firmino), Neymar; Gabriel Jesus. Coach: Tite|
|MEXICO (4-3-3): Ochoa; E. Álvarez (56′ Dos Santos), Salcedo, Ayala, Gallardo; H. Herrera, Marquez (46′ Layun), Guardado; Vela, J. Hernández (60′ Jimenez), Lozano. Coach: Osorio|
REFEREE: Rocchi (Italy)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Alvarez, Salcedo, Guardado, Herrera (M), Filipe Luis, Casemiro (B)
Click below to relive some of Brazil and Mexico’s previous games at World Cup 2018:
Brazil-Costa Rica 2-0
South Korea-Mexico 1-2