Neymar brace pilots Brazil in second round

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Photo: Neymar celebrates after scoring against Cameroon (Getty Images)

 

After two less than stellar performances in the first round of the FIFA World Cup the hosts and one of the tournament favourites Brazil finally showed up with a scintillating attacking display to sweep aside Cameroon 4-1 and top Group A with a total of 7 points.

From the opening whistle it was clear that both teams were intent on playing attacking football and both teams had near misses early on. Cameroon came closest when Marcelo had to provide a vital block in the 10th minute to keep the score at 0-0.

The Africans were playing their best game of the tournament and were testing the resolve of the hosts. But Neymar has been the poster boy for Brazil and he broke the deadlock in the 17th minute when he got on the end of a Luis Gustavo cross to side foot home. It was the 100th goal of the 2014 World Cup.

Three minutes later Cameroon keeper Itandje did well to stop a screamer as Neymar tried his luck from distance. Fred was the next to be denied by a combination of keeper and defender as Brazil tried to push home their advantage.

Cameroon was not about to allow Brazil to have it all their own way. Matip headed against the crossbar in the 25th min and less than a minute later Brazil was taking the ball out of their net. Having failed to clear their lines are mark properly in the box, Matip was left all alone on the back post and had a simple tap in to draw Cameroon level.

It took the hosts only 10 minutes to restore their lead and it was Neymar again who would do the damage. The Barcelona man picked up the ball in the left channel and drove into the box before getting by two defenders and shooting powerfully into the back of the net. His effort tricked the keeper who anticipated the effort going to the far post.

That completed the scoring for the first half with the stadium full of spectators dressed in Brazil yellow danced to the beat of the Samba.

Fernandinho replaced Paulinho at half time and that gave even more impetus to an already dangerous Brazilian attack. The move paid dividends as the Selaciao dominated the second half while the Indomitable Lions hardly roared and wilted as an attacking force.

Fred, who has been struggling since the start of the tournament, finally got on the score sheet when he headed home from close range only four minutes after the restart. Replays suggested that he was offside but the goal stood as Brazil went 3-1 up.

Neymar was replaced moments after receiving a hard tackle midway the second half, a precaution by coach Scolari with knock out round beckoning.

Fernandinho wrapped up the scoring in the 84th minute when he outpaced the Cameroon defense to slot home to the far post for a comfortable Brazil win.

The result means that the first game of the round of 16 will be an all South American clash between the hosts and Group B runner-up Chile in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.