Neymar settles the nerves as Brazil face Chile in the last 16
Two goals from Neymar help the hosts top Group A, despite the efforts of Cameroon and Mexico
Brazil 4 Cameroon 1. Two goals from Neymar helped ease Brazil through to the last 16 of the World Cup where they will meet Chile in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.
Neymar was in sparkling form as the hosts topped group A in emphatic style, the Barcelona striker scoring twice either side of an equaliser from Cameroon's Joel Matip.
Fred added a third for Brazil four minutes into the second half and Fernandinho made it 4-1 late on. After an unconvincing victory against Croatia and a goalless draw to Mexico, Brazil needed to send a message to their rivals on the eve of the knockout phase, and they just about managed it thanks to the sharp-eyed brilliance of Neymar who has now scored four goals in three World Cup matches.
"I'm now playing in matches that I always dreamed about," said Neymar. "I just want to help my fellow players not only by scoring goals but doing whatever it takes on the pitch to help us win." The 22-year-old Neymar added: "We are on the right track and the whole team is getting better and getting close to our target."
However, things did not go entirely according to plan in Brasilia. The party atmosphere was punctured when Matip cancelled out Neymar's opener midway through the first half and it needed a second goal to get things going again.
There was also a brief moment in the second half when a flurry of goals in the other game meant Mexico threatened to steal top spot in Group A on goal difference. However, Brazil's fourth goal prevented that scenario.
So Brazil's victory sets up a last 16 clash with Chile on Saturday while Mexico, who brushed aside Croatia 3-1 thanks to goals from Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado and Javier Hernandez, face Holland after the Dutch beat Chile 2-0 in the Group B decider on Monday afternoon.
"If I could choose I would have picked someone else as Chile are a good South American team, they have quality, they are organised they have the will to succeed," said Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. "I will look at things when all the adrenaline has left our bodies. Sometimes when we look at the match again in the cold light of day we see it in a different way."
Holland had to work hard for their Group B win over Chile in Sao Paulo and the absence of the suspended Robin van Persie seemed to blunt their attacking edge against a Chile side looking to do to the Dutch what they had done to Spain the previous match. In the end it was a sweet header from Norwich City striker Leroy Fer that broke the deadlock on 77 minutes with Memphis Depay grabbing a second on the stroke of full-time. "We are not giving much away and we are creating opportunities," said Holland coach Louis van Gaal, whose side now face Mexico on Sunday in Fortaleza. "This is being confirmed by the results, if it wasn't then you'd chop of my head, I'm sure of it."
Meanwhile reigning world champions Spain avoided the humiliation of finishing bottom of group B with a 3-0 win over Australia. Goals from David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata went some way to restoring Spanish pride, but instead of Mexico on Sunday for the Spain squad, it's now Madrid on Wednesday as they return home. ·