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How Neymar steers Brazil into last-16 of FIFA World Cup

Tuesday, 24 June 2014 - 1:03pm IST | Agency: PTI

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Powered by the genius of star striker Neymar and egged on by a roaring sea of yellow, Brazil sailed into the pre-quarterfinals with a 4-1 demolition of Cameroon while Mexico hammered Croatia 3-1 to also make the last-16 of the FIFA World Cup. Neymar once again proved to be the chief architect of Brazil's victory, scoring twice in their crucial last Group A fixture here.

In doing so, the 22-year-old striker delivered yet another reminder of just how much the hopes of the football-crazy nation depends on his young shoulders. Neymar struck in the 17th and 34th minute while Fred and substitute Fernandinho found the net once each, in the 49th and 84th minute respectively, setting up a last 16 clash with Chile, who finished second in the Group B after losing their last preliminary clash against the Netherlands.

For Cameroon, Matip had equalised in the 26th minute but that was only for eight minutes before Brazil again surged ahead. In Recife, a draw was enough for Mexico to go through but a 10-minute blitz from 72nd to 82nd minute saw them fire home thrice with their inspirational skipper Rafael Marquez breaking the deadlock in the 72nd minute. Andres Guardado scored within another three minutes before Javier Hernandez rounded off the tally in the 82nd minute. Ivan Perisic got a consolation goal for Croatia at the fag end of the match.

Mexico will now face the Netherlands, who topped Group B by remaining unbeaten. However, the Brazil-Cameroon clash was the most awaited for the fans here and as the day passed, the red seats at the Estadio Nacional turned yellow with the home team supporters trooping into the stadium in huge numbers. Considering the favourites tag with which they had entered the tournament, it was a die or do situation for the hosts and for a while, when Matip equalised in the 26th minute, it looked like Cameroon might spoil the party. But that was not to be as Neymar reasserted his supremacy one more time with a fine low shot past Charles Itandje in the Cameroon goal. 

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