Published: Thu, June 28, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

Brazil power into last 16 with Serbia win

Brazil power into last 16 with Serbia win

Serbia was eliminated, finishing third in the group behind Switzerland.

Brazil finished first in Group E and will next face Mexico in the round of 16 on Monday (Tuesday NZT) in Samara.

Thiago Silva jumped highest to head home the definitive goal as Neymar tried, and even had a one-on-one, but it didn't come off for him.

Brazil conjured the opener from nothing when a beautifully lofted pass from Philippe Coutinho found Paulinho, who flicked the ball over Stojkovic's reach on 36 minutes to make it 1-0 at the break.

Brazil started the game with a sense of urgency and looked a lot more enterprising than they did against Switzerland and Costa Rica.

That assist was a frustrated Neymar's major contribution as he fired one shot at Stojkovic's legs after a 70-metre counter-attack, bounced another over the bar and saw the keeper palm clear his final effort of a night where he was routinely bullied off the ball and lost possession countless times.

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Serbia enjoyed their best chance of the match four minutes later - Alisson touching a unsafe cross from the right straight at Aleksandar Mitrovic whose diving header was saved off the line by a defender before deflecting back into the goalkeeper's hands.

The Serbs almost scored in the 61st when Brazil goalkeeper Alisson pushed the ball into the path of forward Aleksandar Mitrovic, whose shot bounced off the keeper and was bound for goal before being cleared by Silva.

But the team has been distracted after two ethnic Albanian players, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri who play for Switzerland, made double eagle gestures in reference to the Albania flag.

Neymar wasn't far away from doubling their lead on the stroke of half-time with a curling shot from 20 yards out that dipped just over the goal, after combining with Luis on the left.

Gabriel Jesus had already forced a close-range block from Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic when Marcelo limped off the field after a back spasm on 10 minutes, but the early setback did not prevent Brazil seizing control of Group E nine minutes before half-time.

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