Nick D

Brazil finish top of Group A and Mexico win 3-1 to confirm their place in the next round

Created on Jun. 23, 2014 6:05 PM EST

Brazil confirms its place in the final 16 with a hard fought physical match that saw them defeat Cameroon 4-1. Brazil knew that a win would see them finish top of Group A for a meeting with Chile in the next round.
Brazil qualify for the knockout stages with a 4-1 win over Cameroon.

Cameroon were already out of the running and knew that they were playing for their pride after losing their two opening games. Brazil though weren't going to take it easy on the African nation as they looked to cement their position on top of Group A in front of a boisterous home crowd. Brazil would open the scoring in the 17th minute as Neymar would give the host nation an early lead. Gustavo would win possession in Cameroon's half on the left side. He looked up as he took a touch and then played in a delightful low cross into the centre of the box. Neymar would outpace his marker and guide the ball into the bottom right corner. Cameroon to their credit didn't lay down and came back at the South Americans and managed to find an equaliser, as Joel Matip brought them back on level terms in the 26th minute. Nyom would take on Dani Alves and with a lucky bounce off the defender fell at his feet as he moved into the box. He squared the ball across the goal face and Matip was there to tap it into the empty net. 1-1 and the Brazilian fans feeling slightly nervous as the match played on. Though Neymar would ease the crowds tension as he would once again turn into the national hero as he regained the lead for his country in the 35th minute. Luiz would feed the ball to Neymar who was lurking at the top of the box. He would dummy a few touches and get past the defender and then send the keeper the wrong way as he directed his shot from the top of the box into the bottom left corner. 2-1 for Brazil as the teams headed into the change rooms for the halftime break.

Neymar celebrates with Fred as he scores a brace for Brazil to lead 2-1 at halftime

The second half and Brazil came out determined to finish the African side off. They came out strong and would only need a few minutes of play before they doubled their lead through a Fred header for his first goal of the tournament. Cameroon failed to clear the ball from their own defensive half as Brazil poured on the pressure. Luiz would break down the left side of the box and play in the cross towards the far post. Fred was left totally unmarked and had the easiest of headers to double Brazil's lead.. Cameroon now with a mountain to climb to get back into this match. Brazil dominated the play and the possession as they moved the ball well and kept possession not allowing Cameroon to try and get back into the game. Then in the final minutes Brazil made sure of the points as Roza would strike to ensure they would qualify in the top spot in Group A.Brazil now were ready to face their South American neighbours Chile in the knockout round.

Brazil all smiles and hugs as the win 4-1 over Cameroon and take top spot in Group A

Mexico and Croatia would battle it out as both teams needed a result to progress further in the tournament. Mexico just needed a draw to ensure they progressed while Croatia knew it was win or go home. The Croatians started off strong and they did hold the majority of possession during the first ten minutes. Mexico would allow the European club to bring the game to them as they absorbed the pressure well and limited Croatia to a few strikes from distance. Though as Mexico settled they would start to counter and look very dangerous when moving forward. Herrera was first to strike and only saw his thunderous shot from outside the box to be only denied by the post. Next Peralta should have given the Central Americans the lead as he got behind the defence and was about to go one on one with the keeper. Though fortune wouldn't be smiling for him as he slipped over in the crucial moment before he could make contact with the ball. The half would end with both sides still level and even though Croatia had a slight advantage in possession stats, it was Mexico that looked the more likely to score.

Herrera's shot would come closest for Mexico to open the scoring in the first half

The second half once again and Mexico let Croatia bring the ball to them. Croatia was trying to patiently build up an attack but the Mexican midfield was too strong and too well organised and managed to frustrate the Europeans. Mexico's passing was very sharp and accurate and Croatia struggled to regain possession from them in the centre of the pitch. Then a moment of controversy as Guardado would have his shot blocked by the Srna. Though the defender would dive at the ball and clearly have both arms outstretched to block the fierce shot. The ref though just called for the corner kick as the Mexicans were outraged as their appeal for a penalty went on deaf ears. Though Mexico weren't done yet as their veteran defender and team captain Rafael Marquez would bring the roof down as he gave Mexico the lead in the 71st minute. The corner was curled into the 6 yard box from the left side and Marquez would muscle his way into position and head the ball down towards the far post. The keeper dived and even though he got a touch it wasn't enough to keep the ball from crossing the line and give Mexico the lead and surely a spot in the next round. To make things even worse for the Croatians they would find themselves down by two goals only minutes later as Mexico countered down the right side. Hernandez dragged out the centre backs and fed the ball wide right to Peralta who drove the ball low across the goals where Guardado met it in his stride and rattled the back of the net. To add salt on the wound Hernandez would strike in the dying minutes to give Mexico a commanding lead. Croatia did get a consolation goal late in the game as Perisic would find the net, but it was too late for the Croatians. Even a nasty tackle by Rebic that saw the Croatian earn himself a red card didn't spoil the fun for Mexico. 3-1 for Mexico and Croatia's World Cup campaign was over as Mexico booked themselves a spot against the Netherlands in the knockout stages.

Rafael Marquez leading his team to a 3-1 victory over Croatia as they now were set to face the Netherlands in the round of 16

Ciao for now readers
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