Neymar fired Brazil into the FIFA Confederations Cup semi-finals with 2-0 win over Mexico in Fortaleza on Wednesday.
The Barcelona forward struck his second goal of the competition, and his 13th in his last 15 international games, with a beautiful volley following a poorly cleared header from Francisco Rodriguez to fire beyond Jose de Jesus Corona in the ninth minute in front of a packed crowd in the north-east of Brazil, before setting up the clincher in the last minute, converted by Jo.
The three-time Confederations Cup winners never looked like losing the match but they struggled to keep up a high tempo against a well-organised Mexico side. Both Oscar and Thiago Silva saw goals correctly ruled out for offside, and Mexico's best chance fell to Hiram Mier but he wasted it with a poor finish. Jo added a second goal in injury time to confirm the victory, after more excellent work from Neymar.
Luiz Felipe Scolari named an unchanged side after their 3-0 opening game victory over Japan, while Mexico made two changes to their side with Jorge Torres and Mier starting in place of Jesus Zavala and Javier Aquino.
The hosts started the game keen to get an early advantage as Marcelo wasted a promising free-kick and Oscar saw a close-range finish ruled out for offside, however five minutes later another Brazil attack resulted in the opening goal.
Dani Alves broke past Carlos Salcido on the right-hand side and clipped a cross into the box, Rodriguez failed to clear the ball properly with his head and the ball looped up for Neymar15 yards out. The 21-year-old waited for the ball to drop, watching it all the way onto his left foot, and thumped a volley past the out-stretchered right hand of a helpless Corona.
With Brazil in the ascendancy it was only the athleticism of Corona that kept the score down, and he had to be alert to deal with an audacious chip from Alves in the 14th minute, just turning the effort from the edge of the box over.
Mexico remained in the contest but a lack of cutting edge was proving costly. Minutes after Alves' chance they should have been level, as Javier Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos both missed chances. Marcelo almost cost his team as he dithered on the ball in the area and Mier robbed him, only to send his shot wide of Cesar's right-hand post.
A reinvigorated Brazil came out for the second half and thought they had doubled their lead two minutes after the break but Silva's strike was ruled out for an offside in a scramble that ensued from Neymar’s whipped free-kick
The host nation continued their dominance and a quiet Hulk should have extended their lead, but could only prod wide after a one-two with Neymar, while Fred waited for a tap-in.
Mexico failed to pose any threat in the second half with David Luiz making crucial interceptions to deny Hernandez on two separate occasions, having picked up a bloodied nose in the first half after accidently head-butting his own captain, Silva.
But Neymar had the final say in injury-time as the forward danced his way into the penalty area before finding Jo unmarked at the back post, and the substitute grabbed his second goal of the tournament.
|Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari|
for Oscar 62'
for Hulk 78'
for Fred 82'
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