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Willian it was really something: Winger
on fire as Brazil beat Mexico 2-0

SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) -- Neymar scored the opening goal and helped set up Firmino for a second but Winger Willian was the standout performer as Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 in the Samara Arena on Monday to book their place in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

It was Willian’s pass which set up Neymar for the opening goal and his running was a key factor in giving his side the spark of creativity that was lacking from midfield duo of Casemiro and Paulinho.

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Ozorio looked to stiffen midfield with the inclusion of the veteran Rafael Marquez, while Hugo Ayala replaced Miguel Layun.

Brazil meanwhile had Felipe Luis in for the injured Marcelo at left back, but Tite kept faith in Willian, Gabriel Jesus and Neymar in attack with Roberto Firmino again on the bench.

Things started brightly with Hirving Lozano having a shot blocked and Guillermo Ochoa parrying Neymar’s long-range effort.

Lozano especially was looking sharp and just missed Javier Hernandez with his pass after skimming past Felipe Luis on the quarter hour.

Hector Herrera was guilty of wanting another touch rather than shooting for Mexico, while Brazil were struggling to connect with their front four until Neymar drew a smart save from Ochoa after cutting into the box and Jesus fired wide after the Mexican keeper failed to punch convincingly clear.

Jesus was next to see a shot saved as Brazil came back into the game and Coutinho had an effort deflected wide as Mexico began to flag.

Layun replaced Marquez at half time for Mexico, but Brazil took the lead in the 51st minute, moments after Ochoa had brilliantly denied Coutinho.

Willian found space on the left of the area and his low cross left Neymar with a tap in for his 2nd goal of the tournament.

Paulinho drew another good save from Ochoa before Casemiro earned a booking that means he’s suspended for the quarterfinals and Willian who was turning into Brazil’s key player, again stung the Mexican keeper’s hands.

There was still time for Neymar to produce some more outrageous play acting on the touchline, before Ochoa deflected his low shot into Firmino’s path two minutes from time to assure the win

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UPDATES:

Neymar and Firmino bring Brazil into World Cup quarter-finals

SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) -- Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 in the Samara Arena on Monday to book their place in the World Cup quarter-finals thanks to a 51st minute goal from Neymar Jr and an 88th minute goal scored by Firmino.

Mexico started brightly but failed to test Alisson in the Brazil goal and tired as the first half progressed leaving more spaces in midfield, although it wasn’t until six minutes after the break that Neymar opened the scoring from close range after great work by Willian.

Chelsea winger Willian was the standout player for Brazil in the second half, as Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa produced a string of good saves to keep his side in the game until Firmino’s late goal on the break.

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Midfield still a problem, but can forwards carry Brazil to World Cup win?

By Paul Giblin SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) -- So can Brazil go all the way in this World Cup? Their win against Mexico in the Samara Arena took them one step closer to the title they haven’t won since 2002, but still left some questions to be answered.

Once again, the Brazilians made it clear that their attacking trio of Willian, Gabriel Jesus and Neymar, with Philipe Coutinho in close attendance can cause damage if they get the ball, but the key word is ‘if’.

“We had 21 chances, it was a great game and I really enjoyed it. Our transitions were really quick,” said Brazil coach Tite after their 2-0 defeat of Mexico on Monday night and he was half right.

In the first 45 minutes against Mexico, Brazil again struggled to get the ball to their best players on a regular basis, due partly to a pragmatic midfield of Casemiro and Paulinho.

Casemiro performs the holding role he has adapted to so well at Real Madrid, but at Real Madrid he is accompanied by Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, two of the best passers in the game, while with Brazil he is accompanied by Paulinho.

Paulinho has had a good season with FC Barcelona, where his ability to break into the box and score key goals was important, but that doesn’t make him one of the great passers in the game.

In the past Brazil would have had Dani Alves and Marcelo tearing upfield from full back, but injury ruled Alves out of the tournament and a hotel mattress (apparently) saw Marcelo start on the bench against Mexico.

His replacement Felipe Luis usually is more solid defensively and gets forward well but has just come back from a broken leg, while, Fagner, who played on the right is no Alves. As a result Brazil struggled to play the ball out as long as Mexico were able to maintain their pressure high up the field and had Mexico been a bit sharper upfront or maybe had a bit more faith, they could have made them pay.

You wonder whether a Belgium with Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazzard and Kevin de Bruyne or France with Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud would be quite as unforgiving.

What can Tite do to change things? Marcelo should be back for the quarterfinals. While the inclusion of Fernandinho, who had a good season with Manchester City, may offer more fluidity than Paulinho, although Casemiro’s suspension means that Paulinho will probably keep his place.

When Mexico tired Brazil created enough chances to have won by more than 2-0. But those first 45 minutes just leave that seed of doubt that against a really top side things might be different.

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Brazil coach and Neymar reject play-acting accusations against strike

SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) -- Brazil coach Tite refused to criticise striker Neymar after an incident in which the Brazil striker appeared to once again be guilty of over-reacting following a possible incident on the touchline in the second half of Brazil’s 2-0 win over Mexico to book their place in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

Neymar needed four minutes treatment after clutching his shin following a possible aggression by Mexican substitute Miguel Layun although TV replays show that any contact, if I existed was extremely slight.

“I saw what happened, everyone who is watching, and you can see the image,” said Tite, before praising the forward, who scored the opening goal in their 2-0 win over Mexico.

“Neymar was out of action for three and a half months, that is a lot at the top level. A top-level player needs 4 or 5 matches to recover, he played well in the last game and today he repeated his excellence,” he said.

Neymar was also asked about the incident but preferred not to discuss it saying he felt accusations of play-acting were “an attempt to undermine me.”

“I don’t care about criticism or praise, because that can influence your attitude. I haven’t talked to the press, because I don’t want controversy,” he said in the post-game press conference

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio had earlier slammed Neymar for his attitude, although he refused to name him specifically.

“I think it is a disgrace for the game that you lose so much time for one single player...I don’t think that is a good example for football or followers of football. It is a game for tough people and not to act like a clown,” said Osorio.

Meanwhile Tite was pleased with Brazil’s performance, saying; “We had 21 chances, it was a great game and I really enjoyed it. Our transitions were really quick.”

He also had praise for winger Willian, who set up Neymar for the first goal and was a massive influence in the second half.

“Willian has been playing really well, sometimes he suffers tactically, it’s not that he has too much work, but he does a lot, but in the second half today he was allowed to shine,” said the Brazil boss.

             

 

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