Neymar Leads Brazil Into Quarter-finals

Neymar was the difference on Monday as Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

The star forward opened the scoring early in the second half at the Samara Arena and it was his shot being saved which led to Roberto Firmino’s 88th-minute clincher.

It’s the seventh consecutive quarter-final appearance for the five-time champions, while Mexico exit in the last 16 for the seventh straight World Cup.

Both sides had early chances as Brazil keeper Alisson punched a cross straight to Hirving Lozano, whose shot was blocked by Miranda.

For Brazil Neymar had an effort palmed away by the outstanding Guillermo Ochoa.

Lozano then just missed connecting with Javier Hernandez at the far post and had another shot blocked after a fine cross-field ball from Carlos Vela.

El Tri’s confidence continued to grow as they worked down the left with Vela laying off for Herctor Herrera, whose shot was snuffed out by Thiago Silva in the area.

Neymar then began Brazil’s awakening by brilliantly turning Edson Alvarez on the left side of the area, only to be denied by Ochoa.

Philippe Coutinho then fired over goal and Ochoa saved from Gabriel Jesus, whose follow-up effort was cleared away by Jesus Gallardo.

Brazil maintained the pressure in the second half as Ochoa parried away Coutinho’s shot.

“Everyone gives their best for the team. But things did not go well for Mexico today,” said the goalkeeper.

He made 20 saves at this World Cup. Asked about his performances in Russia he added: “I am content about what I did at this World Cup but I can’t really be happy because we did not go through.”

He could do nothing moments later when Willian drove into the box and sent a low cross which Neymar poked home at the far post.

Paulinho should have doubled the lead when he was left alone near the penalty spot, but Ochoa once again came up with the save.

Mexico then hit Brazil on a counter-attack that ended with Vela’s shot being tipped over by Alisson, while Ochoa was on the spot again to save Willian’s strike.

Neymar, whose foul exaggerations were a point of pre-match talk from Mexico captain Andres Guardado, then drew the ire of the El Tri fans in the crowd of 41,970 by rolling theatrically on the ground after Miguel Layun stepped on his ankle in the 73rd minute.

But he had the last laugh by beating an offside trap and sending a shot that was saved straight in the direction of Firmino, who tapped in from close range to settle matters.

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