Brazil 2 (Neymar 9, Jo 90+3)
Castelão, Fortaleza. Temp. 30°C, wind 18 mph, passing clouds. Referee: Howard Webb (England)
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Oscar (Hernanes 62), Fred (Jo 82), Hulk (Lucas Moura 78), Neymar.
Mexico: Corona, Rodriguez, Torres Nilo (Barrera 70), Moreno, Flores (Herrera 58), Mier, Guardado, Torrado (Jimenez 88), Salcido, dos Santos, Hernandez.
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil made it two wins from two in Confederations Cup Group A with a 2-0 win against Mexico, who once again failed to find a finishing touch to some accomplished approach play. Neymar was the star of the show and, ultimately, the difference between the two teams scoring one goal and creating the other.
Brazil started strongly with the backing of a passionate home crowd bedecked almost uniformly in yellow. They thought they had taken the lead as early as the fifth minute when Oscar had the ball in the net, but it was ruled out for offside. However, they kept the Mexicans under pressure and did get the breakthrough a few minutes later when Dani Alves broke forward down the right and sent in a delicious cross that was flicked clear by a defender only to drop to Neymar on the edge of the box. The young forward expertly hit a powerful left-foot volley past Corona in the Mexican goal to make it 1-0.
Mexico’s defence continued to be stretched by Brazil’s speed on the break and it was almost 2-0 just before the quarter hour mark when Dani Alves again came forward and hit an inch perfect chip towards the far top corner but Corona managed to scramble back and finger tip it over the bar. That seemed to be the wake-up call for Jose Manuel de la Torre’s team as they gradually managed to get a grip on the game and enjoyed a few periods of possession, even creating some promising situations, without getting any clear cut chances. The closest they came was with a dos Santos free kick that flew just over the bar in first half stoppage time.
The second half began with another Brazilian ‘goal’ ruled out for offside but proceeded to be much tighter and less eventful than the first period. There were one or two half chances at both ends and Neymar went close again with a rasping shot from the left towards the near post but by and large Mexico competed on an even footing with their opponents and threatened at times to get back on level terms. In the end it was another piece of magic from Neymar that wrapped up the win for Brazil. He produced a fine dribble into the box, squeezing through an almost invisible gap between defenders before picking out substitute Jo arriving in the six yard box to lay on a simple tap in to make it 2-0 in the last minute of injury time.
Brazil now have six points from a possible six ahead of their final group game against Italy. Mexico have now suffered successive defeats in their opening two games and only have a slim chance of qualifying for the semi finals, They face Japan in their final group game, with the Japanese first taking on Italy in the other Group B game later on tonight.