Jun 23, 2014, 5:55 PM EDT
With his third and fourth goals of the 2014 World Cup, Brazilian star Neymar has put his team into the knockout round. Scoring in the 17th and 34th minutes, the 22-year-old helped send his team into halftime with a one-goal lead over Cameron, with second half goals from Fred and Fernandinho delivering a 4-1 win for the hosts in their nation’s capital.
Neymar opened the scoring with a right-footed finish from the middle of the Cameroon penalty area, an opener that was pulled back by a Joel Matip in the 26th minute. Just past the half-hour mark, a shot from the top of the area into the left of goal completed Neymar’s brace, with a close-range finish just after halftime giving Fred his first World Cup goal. With a toe-poke from the left of the area in the 84th minute, Fernandinho closed the scoring, helping the Seleçao hold off Mexico in Group A.
With the win, Brazil moves on to the knockout round, where they will face Chile on Saturday in Belo Horizonte. Cameroon leaves Brazil 2014 without a point, having lost seven straight matches at World Cups.
Early Brazil attacks down the team’s right flank provided hints the favorites would control the match, but as Cameroon came into the game, the opening moments found a surprising equilibrium.
That changed in the 17th minute when Luiz Gustavo forced a turnover at the edge of Brazil’s attacking third. Moving down the left side, the Seleçao midfielder played a ball toward the penalty spot. There, Neymar had cut across central defender Joel Matip to create room to finish inside Charles Itanjde’s left post.
Cameroon responded quickly when the second ball in from a 26th minute corner found Matip in front of goal. His one-timed finish of Nyom’s cross gave Júlio César no chance to prevent the shock equalizer.
Neymar, however, made sure Brazil’s response was just as swift. Given room to cut onto his right foot at the top of Cameroon’s penalty area, the Barcelona star pulled his shot into the left of goal, giving Brazil the 2-1 lead they’d take into halftime.
Just after intermission, a chipped cross from Neymar was cleared out of the Cameroon area, where midfielder Fernandinho was able to maintain Brazil’s possession. After the ball went wide to David Luiz, the Brazilian defender found Fred in front of goal, where the striker headed home his team’s third goal.
Six minutes from time, just as Mexico’s scoreline against Croatia was threatening to vault El Tri first in Group A, Brazil found added insurance. Running onto an Oscar pass in the left of Cameroon’s penalty area, Fernandinho finished far post to give Brazil their fourth goal, ensuring the hosts would finish first in their group.
The win guaranteed Brazil, who came into the day tied at the top of their group, would avoid the Netherlands to open the next round. Unfortunately, the alternative doesn’t provide much relief. Chile, seen by many as one of the tournament’s dark horses, await the World Cup favorites.
Cameroon: Itanjde; Mbia, N’koulou, Nyom, Bedimo; Matip, Enoh, N’Guémo; Moukandjo (Salli 58′), Aboubakar (Webó 72′), Choupo-Moting
Goals: Matip 26′
Brazil: César; Alves, Silva, Luiz, Marcelo; Gustavo, Paulinho (Fernandinho 46′); Oscar, Neymar (Willian 71′), Hulk (Ramires 63′); Fred
Goals: Neymar 17′, 34′, Fred 49′, Fernandinho 84′
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