Brazil Cruises Past Mexico Into World Cup Quarterfinals
Brazil stormed into the World Cup quarterfinals with its third straight shutout victory on Monday, picking apart Mexico, 2-0, on goals by Neymar and Roberto Firmino.
The defeat, and the stage for it, will be sadly familiar for Mexico. It departs the tournament in its first knockout-round game for the seventh straight World Cup — a stunning run of bad losses, bad matchups and just plain bad luck.
It can have no complaints about its loss to Brazil, though; the Brazilians were the better team, and looked fresher even at the end. Neymar opened the scoring in the 51st minute, sliding in to tap home a ball served in precisely by Willian.
The substitute Roberto Firmino added the clincher in the 88th minute on a carbon copy goal: this time it was Neymar who burst in on the left, and Firmino who slid into the goalmouth to turn the ball home.
Brazil advanced to a Friday quarterfinal in Kazan against the winner of Monday’s Belgium-Japan game.
Brazil’s victory was its third straight 2-0 win since opening the tournament with a disappointing 1-1 tie against Switzerland. But Costa Rica, Serbia and now Mexico have fallen before the Brazilians in order, and with Neymar scoring and Philippe Coutinho creating and a back four allowing almost nothing, the five-time World Cup champions will be a tough out now.
Here’s how Brazil beat Mexico:
FULL TIME: Brazil 2, Mexico 0
Brazil looks to be the World Cup favorite after a dominating performance against Mexico. Neymar was all over the field, and his defense appears to be more than up to the task.
90’ + 5: Mexico Goes Down Shooting
One last gasp for Mexico, but Allison is up to the task. Jimenez lets one fly, but a defender clips it.
90’ + 2: Guardado Settles a Score
Guardado gets a late yellow, which feels like a score-settling, I’m-just-mad-at-the-world yellow at this point.
90’ +1: One More Sub for Brazil
Final sub for Brazil. Marquinos on for Willian. The referee has added six minutes of injury time, by the way. Figure at least four of that is down to Neymar.
90’: Mexico, Again, Could Go Out in Round of 16
It’s hard to believe, given the feelings and the optimism after Mexico opened the tournament with its stunning win over Germany, but they’re going out — again — in their first knockout game. That’s seven straight World Cups that they’ve made it out of the group only to fall at the first hurdle. And it’ll be a bitter disappointment: they were primed and talented and prepared, and then they ran into Brazil.
88’ GOAL! Brazil Puts Mexico Away
Neymar bursts down the left and pokes a shot past Ochoa with his right foot. Ochoa gets a toe on it — just enough to keep it off line — but Firmino is the first man to it in the goalmouth and he buries it. Brazil 2, Mexico 0. And that’ll be that in this one.
88’: Osorio Not Happy With Call
Osorio is red with rage on the sideline. No clue why, but that’s not acting: he’s madddddd.
87’: Corner for Mexico
Brazil defends a corner but Alisson has to come out for a punch to save it. Bad things happen on plays like that, but fortunately for him, Mexico was offside. Tick, tick, tick ……
86’: Firmino for Coutinho
Here’s the second Brazil sub: Firmino on for his former Liverpool teammate Coutinho.
85’: The Numbers Favor Brazil
While the possession is 50-50 today, Brazil has had more shots, more shots on target, more corners and, most crucially, one more goal. Deserved leaders, but they haven’t put El Tri away yet. That’s dangerous, especially in these final desperate minutes.
84’: Brazil Slowing It Down
Thiago Silva down for treatment now; Brazil knows how to play this slowdown game better than most teams, too. They’ve got alllllll the skills.
82’: To the Winner …
The winner of today’s game plays the Belgium-Japan winner — that game kicks off in a few hours — in the Kazan quarterfinal on Friday.
81’: Brazil Solid in the Back
It’s worth noting that Brazil has given up one goal in Russia: in the 50th minute of its opening tie against Switzerland. They’ve been rock solid at the back ever since. Mexico, on the other hand, is nearly its second straight shutout defeat if they can’t find a goal soon.
80’: Here Comes Fernandinho for Brazil
Paulinho off, Fernandinho off. Some would argue they just got a better version of the same player.
79’: Fagner Holds Off Lozano
High-fives for Fagner at the back after he holds off Lozano and somehow manages to win a goal kick. Brazil can sense it. Mexico has 15 minutes or so to get something going.
77’: Yellow for Layun
Tape-delayed yellow card for Layun there after another Neymar takedown in midfield. He protests briefly, but the referee isn’t having it. That was probably payback for the earlier one.
75’: Mexico Looks Tired
Mexico has made three subs and Brazil none. So why is it that Mexico looks gassed?
73’: No Card for Layun
Rocchi choose to pass on a review; maybe Neymar looked a little tooooooooo hurt. Anyway, Layun stays on, and play resumes.
72’: Neymar Still Down
Neymar really made a meal of it, though, pounding the turf in agony (honestly, it didn’t look like he got raked or anything). But now the delay would give the referee the chance to take a look.
71’: Layun Stomps Neymar
Neymar writhing on the ground next to the Brazil bench. But it looks like Layun was a bit naughty there. He stomped on his ankle as he came over to get the ball while Neymar lay on the turf.
70’: Great Chance for Mexico
A SUPER ball from Salcedo creates a chance on the right for Herrera, but his cross just misses the noggin of Dos Santos and Guardado, first to the free ball, has it blocked by two charging Brazilians.
If you’re Juan Carlos Osorio, you’d like more of that.
68’: Brazil’s Counterattack Just Misses
Carlos Vela turns a promising Mexico attack into a sudden Brazilian counter with an inexcusably loose pass in midfield. Willian promptly finds Neymar, who pivots and — thankfully for Vela — rolls his shot around the left post.
66’: Jimenez Off to a Bad Start
Raul Jimenez, who quietly came on for Chicharito a few minutes ago, allows his first real action to be a ball lost between his legs. Ack.
65’: No Foul
That sure looked like a foul on Lozano as he cut across the top of the area, but Mr. Rocchi doesn’t blow his whistle, and the chance fades away.
64’: Another Save for Ochoa
Willian uses a stepover to lose Salcedo and rips a right-footed shot that Ochoa is lucky to push over.
63’: Neymar Goes Down
Neymar, down again, appears to be asking why the superstar treatment is not in effect today. “Do you know who I am? I’m Neymar!”
61’: Mexico Blocked!
Something out of nothing for Mexico there: a ball up the left springs Lozano, and Vela winds up with it on the right. Alisson reaches up and pushes his bending shot over the bar.
59’: Paulinho Fires, Ochoa Blocks
Fagner absolutely tees up Paulinho at the spot, but he hits Ochoa right in the mitts. At the other end, Casemiro goes into the book with a yellow. That’s his second, so he’ll miss the quarterfinals if Brazil holds on and wins today.
If they don’t hold on and win, of course, all the Brazilians will miss the quarterfinals.
57’: Brazil Looking for No. 2
Brazil, aware of the lesson Spain learned on Sunday, is hunting a second goal now. Why wait? Neymar fires from distance but it’s just wide.
55’: Dos Santos On for Mexico
Alvarez, who got the early yellow, off for Jonathan Dos Santos. He’s stepped into the center of midfield, but is a more attacking player by nature, I’d think, which is what Mexico needs at the moment.
55’: Vela Making Moves
Nice bit of footwork by Carlos Vela at midfield. He manages to pull three Brazilians out of position, but when he finally wriggles free he’s just so tired he passes it back.
53’: Corner for Mexico
Mexico in again, through Carlos Vela on the left. He goes down and the ball goes out. Brazil appeals for a goal kick. Mexico wants a penalty. The ref picks — corner!
52’: Different Game Now
The goal stands after a quick VAR inspection for offside, and now here comes Mexico straight off the kickoff. The goal has spiced things up nicely. In elimination games, they tend to do that.
51’ GOAL! BRAZIL!
That was pretty. Neymar walked the ball across the top of the area and then, just when it looked like he’d gone too far, backheeled it to Willian. Willian pushed it through into space just to the left of the goal, and his cutback is met by … Neymar, who never stopped running.
50’ Great Chance for Mexico
A secondary breakout led by Gallardo gives him options left, right and center. So of course he curls a shot five yards over Alisson’s crossbar.
48’: Another Save for Ochoa
Mexico nearly caught snoozing on the corner, as Coutinho is allowed to walk in and tee up a shot on Ochoa. The keeper isn’t pleased, and slaps his hands and reminds his teammates they’re there to protect him.
47’: Mexico Shuffles
Layun, at least initially, seems to have slotted in at right back, pushing Alvarez into the central midfield role Marquez vacated. But let’s give it a few minutes to be sure.
46’: Layun Comes On for Mexico
One change for Mexico at halftime: A now-blond Miguel Layun replaces Marquez, who gave them a half in this intense heat.
Ochoa Up to the Task
Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa became the first goalkeeper of this World Cup to make 20 saves. He’s had a couple big ones today.
Halftime: Brazil 0, Mexico 0
Mexico will be far more pleased with that half than Brazil, which was the more dangerous team but still had to fight off a couple nervous moments. Brazil is the favorite today though, by a wide margin, so every minute they’re not winning is a minute wasted for them, and a minute of hope for Mexico.
Andrew Keh: Chicharito, who seemed to be moving gingerly at times in that half, jogged quickly into the locker room at the whistle while the 21 other players on the field walked. He may have some injury to sort out.
43’: Yellow for Filipe Luis
Brazil’s Filipe Luis joins Alvarez in the referee’s notebook with a lunging toe stab at Vela. Stopped the attack, however, so maybe it was worth it.
42’: Brazil Corner Cleared
The same is true for its corners … Brazil’s third of the day is easily dealt with by Marquez.
41’: Brazil Attack Fizzles Again
Brazil’s one-touch, give-and-go game is world class so far. It’s crossing, however, is high school gym class, and so another moment that gave us all hope fades away.
40’: Neymar’s Free Kick Goes Wide
Neymar takes the free kick himself, but its a couple yards high and a couple yards wide. No problem for Ochoa, who is happy to watch is sail past.
39’: Yellow for Alvarez
Well , nothing ticky-tack about that one: Alvarez tries to cut Neymar in half. He doesn’t succeed, but does manage to bring him down. That’ll be a yellow for the right back, which may make his job — keeping Neymar in check — quite a bit more difficult.
38’: Both Sides Getting Physical
And the ticky-tack ankle-clipping portion of the game has begun. The referee Gianliuca Rocchi gives a warning: yellow cards to come.
35’: Lozano Switches Sides
Mexico’s Hirving Lozano over on the left now, where he’s promptly whacked by Fagner. “Welcome to this side. This is how we roll over here,” he says. “You might be more comfortable back over there.”
33’: Two Saves for Ochoa as Brazil Attacks
Double save for Guillermo Ochoa and Mexico! Brazil’s ball feints work again, and result in a pair of shots for Gabriel Jesus and Coutinho. Mexico blocks both, though, and breathes a sigh of relief.
31’: Mexico Takes a Breath
After another foiled attack from Brazil, Alvarez, stalling on a throw at midfield, makes the universal “just chill a sec” signal. Maybe he’s right. He could have been talking to both teams.
28’: Feels Like a Goal Is in the Air
A bit more urgency to the game now. The chances are coming in bunches, and the end-to-end is picking up. Do you sense a goal coming soon?
26’: Coutinho Fires … High
A Brazil free kick leads to some more scrambling: an awkward header, an Ochoa save, a Gabriel Jesus shot after he collects the rebound, and a kick save by Ayala — the center back — to keep it out. Coutinho lets everyone catch their breath by blasting THAT rebound high over the bar.
25’: Neymar Makes His Move
Ooooh Neymar. He just crossed over Alvarez there like a point guard in the open court. (Alvarez, to his eternal credit, didn’t fall over.) But Ochoa is out to make himself just big enough to block the shot. Super move, super save.
23’: Mexico’s Counterattack
About those Mexico counterattacks: they’ll probably want to go faster, more urgently, when they can to try to catch Brazil, which won’t like it anymore than Germany did. But the tired legs and three games in the group may be showing a bit; the pace just isn’t there so far.
21’: Mexico Keeps Running
Another breakout for Mexico — this is where they can be at their most dangerous — but the runs don’t have the same pace as the ones that tormented Germany in the opening game. Still, the secondary buildup produces a chance — Herrera pulls a ball around a sliding Miranda just in side the top of the area, but pulling the trigger takes a beat too long, and his attempt is blocked.
18’: Herrera Blocked
Crazy attacking sequence by Mexico there: Vela bad header, Chicharito overhead kick from the sideline to Guardado in the center, one-touch to Vela, cross to Herrera for a shot. Which is blocked. Feels like we deserved better after all that.
16’: Mexico’s Midfield Scrambling
In the “frantically scrambling back to help out at the first sign of danger” statistics, I’m giving Mexico’s midfield the early edge.
13’: Danger for Brazil
A bit more danger for Brazil there, as a cross proves troubling problematic. Mexico with a corner, but Brazil’s winning all of these aerial battles for now.
12’: New Look
Just to clarify: Salcedo is the blond Mexican in defense. Chicharito is the blond Mexican in attack.
11’: Mexico Aggressive
Danger for Brazil there, as they lost Chicharito down the left. But they scramble back and Miranda, losing his footing in the area, pokes the ball off his feet just long enough for a teammate to clear.
9’: Threat From Vela
Great run by Carlos Vela up the left ends up in the area; he seemed surprised, almost, that Fagner let him in so easily.
On the corner that follows, a header sails high into the air and Alisson and Chicharito battle for it. The giant Brazilian keeper wins that fight every time.
7’: Marquez Solid in the Middle
Marquez has parked himself in front of the center backs, Ayala and Salcedo, as a deep-lying midfielder/forward-covering center back. He’ll be there all day, providing cover and guidance as Brazil charges in.
5’: Neymar Kicks a Knuckleball
A giveaway by Mexico gives Neymar an open look at the top of the penalty area. THIS IS NOT A GOOD STRATEGY MEXICO! His knuckling shot fools Ochoa a bit, but it’s straight at him, so he just punches it away.
4’: Neymar Tumbles
And Neymar takes his first dramatic tumble to win a free kick. It won’t be his last.
3’: Chicharito Flattens Fagner
Fagner gets run over, and stepped on, by Chicharito as he tries to break across the midfield stripe. Sorry not sorry, Hernandez says. Free kick for Brazil.
2’: Corner for Mexico
That one from Guardado is better: he gets in faster, and sends in a dangerous cross that Alisson has to dive to poke away. The clearance gets Mexico a corner though, which they promptly waste.
1’: Mexico Pushes Early
Mexico gets us going and tries to spring Guardado down the left. But he’s got no option, and ran a bit deep, and then kicks the ball out himself for a goal kick. Mexico will want to be direct again, though. But loner runs like that are easy for Brazil to handle.
Brazil vs. Mexico: The Crew
There’s an Italian in the middle today — Gianliuca Rocchi — and an all-Italian V.A.R. team back in Moscow.
Expect Mexico to Counterattack
Mexico Manager Juan Carlos Osorio, while praising Brazil, hinted his team would approach today’s game much as it did its win over Germany: by acknowledging the opponent’s technical skill, but also running right at them on the counter.
“Our footballing style has more to do with creating defensive problems in the opposition line,” he said. “We never throw in the towel and give up on attacking.”
Brazil’s Starting Lineup
There’s confirmation that Brazil makes only one change, sending out Filipe Luis for the injured Marcelo.
1 Alisson (Roma)
2 Thiago Silva (Paris St Germain)
3 Miranda (Inter Milan)
5 Casemiro (Real Madrid)
6 Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)
9 Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
10 Neymar (Paris St Germain)
11 Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona)
15 Paulinho (Barcelona)
19 Willian (Chelsea)
22 Fagner (Corinthians)
Marquez Starts for Mexico
The presence of Marquez in the Mexico lineup today sends a couple of signals. The first, shown in his first appearances in the tournament and confirmed by today’s start, is that Mexico is not letting anything affect its preparations or team selection for matches at the World Cup. But the more important signal is this: Manager Juan Carlos Osorio has clearly decided that he needs a veteran presence in the center of his defense against Brazil. And he trusts Marquez, who has seen it all in a long club and international career.
In some ways, the move is reminiscent of Russia’s starting 38-year-old Sergey Ignashevich against Spain (and every other game). Even at their age, he and Marquez act as a security blanket for a coach, a relief that no matter what happens, they won’t be fazed by it.
Mexico’s Starting Lineup
13 Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege)
2 Hugo Ayala (Tigres)
3 Carlos Salcedo (Eintracht Frankfurt)
4 Rafael Marquez (Atlas)
11 Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC)
14 Javier Hernandez (West Ham)
16 Hector Herrera (Porto)
18 Andres Guardado (Real Betis)
21 Edson Alvarez (America)
22 Hirving Lozano (PSV Eindhoven)
23 Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey)
Brazil star Neymar certainly has his critics, but consider his numbers in group play:
dribbles (17), fouls won (17), shots (16), and chances created (11).
All of those numbers were the highest from Group E.
Mexico Goes Blond
The teams are out for warmups in Samara, giving everyone their first extended look at the bleached blond dye jobs Javier Hernandez and Miguel Layun got done between games. It’s, um, something.
In a bit of unfortunate timing, a bit of Juan Carlos Osorio’s pregame praise for Brazil on Sunday reads kind of like a dig today.
“Brazil are a great team, they’re the best team in the world,” Mexico’s manager said. “That is because each of their players can control, pass and they behave as a unit just like Spain, Germany.”
Behaving as a unit “just like Spain” hardly qualifies as a compliment today.
Keep an Eye on Chicharito
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s could be playing in his final World Cup game for Mexico. Or he could cement his legend as one of the country’s all-time greats. He scored the game-winner against South Korea in the group stage and will be crucial to Mexico’s attack against Brazil
Mexico’s Manager on the Hot Seat
Mexico’s fans were grumbling about their manager, Juan Carlos Osorio, before the World Cup and then singing his name after the team won its first two games. What happens if El Tri goes out today in the second round, for the seventh straight World Cup?
Brazil vs. Mexico: The History
Brazil and Mexico have played four previous matches at the World Cup. Brazil is 3-0-1 in them, and has outscored Mexico by 11-0.
Mexico is looking to avoid its seventh straight second-round exit from the World Cup. But it has to wonder if it lost its momentum in its collapse against Sweden. This is the fourth game in two weeks for each team, and the weekend games showed the heavy legs starting to show up — especially in the two games that went to extra time.