Brazil superstar Neymar was front and centre as the five-time world champions secured their quarter-final berth by beating Mexico 2-0 in a tempestuous 2018 FIFA World Cup clash at the Samara Arena on Monday.
Philippe Coutinho has been the Brazilian on song so far in Russia, but the Samba Boys had their talisman to thank for against El Tri, as Neymar scored the opener early on in the second-half before assisting substitute Roberto Firmino for the second late in the tie.
The scoreline flattered the Brazilians a tad bit for Javier Hernandez and Co. had the South Americans sweating in the opening exchanges.
Mexico had come to play and were very much the stronger of the sides, pressing high up the pitch and not allowing their fancied opponents the freedom to express themsleves with the ball.
After the half-hour mark, however, Brazil started to stretch their legs with Wilian and Neymar leading the charge.
Guillermo Ochoa was called into action on a number of occasions as the interval neared and with the Mexican custodian in inspired form, it was scoreless as the half-time whistle sounded.
Neymar, however, turned the tide firmly in favour of Brazil fairly early when Willians cross across the face of goal was turned in by the world’s most expensive player in the 51st minute.
It wasn’t all good from the PSG man on the night as his play-acting took a bit of sheen of Brazil’s game, even if he was on the receiving end of some poor tackles.
Ochoa was having a standout game against Brazil but he was powerless to prevent them from scoring a second two minutes from time after substitute Firmino followed up on Neymar’s rebound to put the result of the game beyond doubt.
Belgium take on Japan in the other last-16 tie on the night and the winner of that fixture will face Brazil on Friday night (23.30 IST).