CAMEROON 1, BRAZIL 4 (WORLD CUP GROUP A)
CROATIA 1, MEXICO 3 (WORLD CUP GROUP A)
NEYMAR SCORES 100TH GOAL AT BRAZIL 2014, CHILE NEXT FOR BRAZIL, MEXICO HAVE NETHERLANDS NEXT
For just a couple of minutes towards the end of these final group games there was the prospect of Mexico finishing top of their World Cup group by outscoring Brazil in their final group game against Croatia.
They had already produced another great defensive performance to deny their European opposition much of a sniff on goal and started to threaten in the second half. A trio of Mexican chances arrived shortly after the 65th minute when Dario Srna’s handball from Andres Guardado’s shot should have been punished by a penalty. Vedran Corluka cleared off the line while Stipe Pletikosa kicked Aguilar’s chance away.
Veteran Mexican captain Rafael Marquez finally broke the deadlock after 72 minutes when he rose to head a corner past Pletikosa who should have done better.
Guardado ghosted in at the back post to finish off a slick Mexican counter attack with a left footed strike just three minutes later to leave the Croats reeling.
Hector Moreno cleared Ivica Olic’s shot off the life as Croatia rallied but substitute Javier Hernandez got on the end of a near post flick on with eight minutes remaining to give the Mexicans a glimmer of hope to finish top of Group A.
One goal in the right end for Mexico or Cameroon could have seen a shock change at the top of the group.
Brazil had already raced into a 3-1 lead after a first half Neymar double was followed up by a decidedly suspect Fred goal in the 50th minute.
Cameroon’s Joel Matip had earlier equalised Neymar’s first strike to illustrate how ordinary the Brazil defence was but there was little time to digest the possibility of either Cameroon or Mexico causing Brazil not to finish top.
Just a couple of minutes after Manchester United striker Hernandez had asked the question, Manchester City’s Fernandinho, a second half substitute himself, finished off a move created through hard work by Oscar to make it 4-1 to Brazil in the 84th minute.
Ivan Perisic ended any Mexican hopes of topping the group when he netted Croatia’s consolation goal – the first goal that the Mexicans had conceded in the World Cup – with three minutes to go.
There was time for one last piece of drama when Croatia’s Ante Rebic was sent off for a reckless tackle on Carlos Pena to ensure there was no way back for them.