Chelsea’s Brazilians joined our Belgians in progressing safely to the last 16 stage of the World Cup, beating Cameroon 4-1 in their final group game.
Oscar started for the third time in the tournament and although Ramires was back on the bench, he was introduced for Hulk after 63 minutes with Willian coming on for Neymar eight minutes later. Samuel Eto’o, who also missed Cameroon’s second group game due to injury, was denied the chance to take on some familiar faces.
It was Neymar who did the early damage in Brasilia against the Africans who weren’t without their good moments, especially in the first half, despite already knowing it was their last game.
The Barcelona man’s third and fourth goals of the tournament sandwiched a Cameroon equaliser from Joel Matip with 2-1 the half-time score.
Fred headed in from a David Luiz cross soon after the restart to make it 3-1 but top spot in Group A was not secure until late on due to Mexico scoring heavily against Croatia in the other match. Half-time substitute Fernandinho made that all but certain on 84 minutes following some Cameroon carelessness with a free-kick, Oscar twice involved in the action before the Man City midfielder made it 4-1. Willian went close to adding to that total with a late shot.
Brazil, as group winners, will now play Chile in Belo Horizonte on Saturday. Mexico, who eventually won 3-1, go through at Croatia’s expense and play the Netherlands on Sunday.
In the day’s earlier matches, Fernando Torres scored as Spain ended their World Cup with a comfortable win.
The final set of group games in Brazil began on Monday afternoon and in a match between two sides who already knew they were going home before the knockout stage begins, the reigning world champions beat Australia 3-0 in Curitiba.
Torres started the match and netted his side’s second goal on 69 minutes with a neat run and finish from an Andres Iniesta pass inside the full-back. It was his 38th international goal on his 110th appearance.
David Villa, on his final international appearance, had scored late in the first half to give Spain the lead in a game in which they were largely the better side throughout. In a much-changed side from the first two games, Cesar Azpilicueta remained on the bench but Cesc Fabregas was introduced shortly before Torres’s goal.
It was our new signing from Barcelona who delivered the ball for the third goal inside the final 10 minutes with Juan Mata, another second-half substitute, the scorer.
Spain therefore finish third in Group B which was topped by the Netherlands following their 2-0 win over Chile who also qualify.