From Ground Zero: Last 16 - Brazil to meet Chile, Holland awaits Mexico
Zee Media Bureau/ Shobhan Saxena from Brasilia
In its 100th game in the World Cup, the Brazilian team beat Cameroon 4-1 on Monday at the Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia, in the third and last round of Group A games of the World Cup. Neymar scored two goals, taking his tally to four. Now he is the leading goal scorer of the tournament, ahead of Müller (Germany), Enner Valencia (Ecuador), Benzema (France) and Robben and Van Persie (Netherlands), who all have three goals each.
The Barcelona striker also became the sixth highest goal-scorer for the Brazilian team with 35 goals. The second goal was scored by Fred, who had not scored in the competition so far. The fourth game was scored by Fernandinho, who replaced Paulinho in half time.
With the victory over Cameroon, Brazil ended the first phase in the lead with seven points, the same score as Mexico which beat Croatia 3-1 in Recife. However, the Mexicans were in second place for having worse balance of goals (3-5). Thus, the Brazilian team will face Chile in the next phase, which secured the second place in Group B. The game is scheduled for Saturday at the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte.
Though Chileans are playing quite well in this tournament, Brazil has history on their side. In three games in World Cups so far, Brazil won 4-2 in 1962, 4-1 in 1998 and 3-0 in 2010, all of them in the knock-out stage.
In Monday’s game, Neymar proved why he is such a brilliant player. He opened the score for Brazil and in the 34th minute, the striker received a pass from Marcelo, charged, kicked and cut Nkoulou almost in the middle of the goal. In the second half, Fred sent a curling cross from David Luiz into the goal and Fernandinho poked a ball past the Cameroon keeper.
The Brazilian side is getting better by the game and it’s peaking at the right time.
In the other game of the same group, Mexico needed only a draw to qualify, but they tried not to disappoint the thousands of fans who had packed the Pernambuco Arena qualified for the pre-quarter-final with a score 3-1. The goals were all in the second half. Croatia, defeated and disqualified, could score a goal to save their honour.
The fans in the Pernambuco Arena watched two games at the same time – one on the field and the other on TV screens. Every goal that Brazil scored in Brasilia, the yellow dots amid the green sea drew attention with shouts of celebration.
Croatia started the game with more possession, creating dangerous moves, especially at intersections. But they failed to breach the Mexican defense, and the game ended 3-1 in Mexico’s favour.
Earlier in the day, in a superb game, substitute players Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay sank Chile with two late goals to top Group B and avoided the clash with Brazil in next round. The Netherlands and Chile were level on points before the game in Sao Paulo but top place was crucial to avoid Brazil in the last 16. “We did everything possible but the Netherlands imposed their play on our attackers through their defense. We need to polish a few things," said Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Both started cautiously in bright sun at a packed and noisy Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo. With Robin van Persie suspended, Dynamo Kiev`s Jeremain Lens made his World Cup debut up front for the Dutch and Fenerbahce veteran Dirk Kuyt was deployed on the left of midfield.
Chile`s Arturo Vidal Juventus was benched, who was one booking away from suspension, but took a chance on fit-again midfielder Charles Aranguiz, who was also on the yellow card. A slip by Barcelona`s Alexis Sanchez let Chile`s first dangerous moment go begging when Aranguiz`s dummy surprised him on the edge of the box. The Netherlands` best moment came early when Wesley Sneijder had a long-distance free-kick parried by Claudio Bravo at his near post.
But Bravo, who defended very well in the first half, let in two goals. Now, Chile will play Brazil in the pre-quarter final game.
In another match, a dismal game with no importance, Spain beat Australia by 3-0 at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba. David Villa opened the score after 35 minutes. The second goal was scored by Fernando Torres in the 23rd minutes of the second stage. Juan Mata made it three in the 36th minute.
The clash marked the end of an era of Spain, with the sacking of players like Villa and Xavi. Winner of the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008 and 2012, the Spanish team arrived in Brazil as one of the favorites to win. But they leave after the first round.
In three games, the team of Vicente del Bosque conceded seven goals. It was the fifth time that a current champion was eliminated in the group stage of a World Cup, the third in the last four editions. Prior to Spain, the situation had occurred with Italy (1950 and 2010), Brazil (1966) and France (2002).