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World Cup: Neymar stops miracle to happen, Chile sinks in Orange ocean - PHOTOS

24 June 2014 [09:00] - TODAY.AZ
Was there ever any doubt?

When it mattered most, the man which this Brazilian team's quest may depend on, delivered once again.

Neymar, the face of this World Cup, scored his fourth goal in three games to book his country a date with destiny and Chile in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.
The 22-year-old, for so long hailed as the savior of Brazilian football, has not disappointed at a time where the likes of Portugal's World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo have flattered to deceive.

While Lionel Messi has rescued Argentina, Neymar's 35th goal in 52 international appearances gives an insight into how crucial his role is likely to be in the next few weeks should Brazil go all the way.

His two goals and further strikes from the much maligned Fred and substitute Fernandinho ensured Brazil claimed a 4-1 win over Cameroon and secured top spot in Group A.

Mexico, which defeated Croatia 3-1, took second place and will now face the Netherlands in Fortaleza on Sunday.

But the night belonged to Neymar -- the man who scored the 100th goal of this tournament in his country's 100th match World Cup match.
Brazil will need its talisman to provide his magic once again when it meets Chile, a team which it knocked out of the tournament four years ago in South Africa.

Jorge Sampaoli's men will represent a far more difficult proposition than a Cameroon side which briefly threatened to cause embarrassment by drawing level at 1-1.

But Neymar, having already netted the opener, then took charge by scoring his side's second and guiding Brazil home.

Cameroon, thrashed 4-0 in its previous game by Croatia and already out of the tournament, was hardly supposed to represent the most difficult of challenges.

Leading through Neymar's 17th minute strike, Brazil allowed Cameroon back into the contest as its cumbersome defending was once again exposed.

Just minutes after Joel Matip's header had been deflected onto the crossbar, Cameroon leveled to silence those packed inside the Arena Pernambuco.

Allan Nyom escaped down the right and after beating the non-existent challenge of Dani Alves, crossed for Matip to tap home from close range.

Suddenly, from a carnival of color and celebration, a dark cloud hung over Brazil's World Cup dream.

But any negativity was soon washed away by a rampant yellow swagger which ripped through the very heart of the Cameroon defense.

Neymar, the chief tormentor, was afforded far too much room and after leading the defenders a samba-like dance, he unleashed a fine effort which wrongfooted the goalkeeper.

Suddenly Brazil was rampant. Neymar threatened a third when his powerful effort was tipped away by Charles Itandje, while Hulk failed to hit the target after a wonderful flowing move.

The interval offered little respite for Cameroon and within five minutes it fell further behind when the previously luckless Fred converted David Luiz's cross to net his first goal of the tournament

Fernandinho, the Manchester City midfielder, added a fourth with six minutes remaining to ensure Brazil finished top on goal difference from Mexico.

"Maybe we tried to hurry things a bit too much early on, when we scored our first goal and let anxiety get to us," Brazil's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said after the match.

"We need to show more calm and composure. Fortunately we ironed out some flaws at half-time and after the break we used the ball better again."

El Tri had threatened to usurp the host nation at the top of the table after putting Croatia to the sword in Recife.

After a goalless first half, Rafael Marquez, the first man to captain his country at four World Cups, headed Mexico in front with 18 minutes remaining.

Andres Guardado rounded off a slick counter attack soon after to double his side's advantage before Manchester United star Javier Hernandez added a third.

It was a just reward for Mexico, which hit the crossbar in the first half and was denied what appeared to be a blatant penalty with the game still goalless.

"(We'll) have a few more great days yet," Miguel Herrera, the Mexico manager said. "There is still room for improvement. We stayed calm and maintained our focus, that was the key to success."

Croatia, which could have qualified with a victory, pulled a goal back through Ivan Perisic but was then reduced to 10 men when Ante Rebic was sent off.

Mexico will now face a Dutch side which won all three of its group games and reached the final in South Africa four years ago.

Netherlands 2-0 Chile

Leroy Fer's second half header and a late strike from Memphis Depay fired the Netherlands to a third consecutive World Cup win following a hard-fought 2-0 victory against Chile.

The Dutch, which tops Group B with maximum points, had already qualified for the next stage along with its South American opponents.

Fer's 77th minute effort gave Louis van Gaal's side the lead before Depay rounded off a late counter attack to seal the win.

Chile's first defeat of the tournament condemned Jorge Sampaoli's side into second place.

Both teams will find out their fate on Monday night with Brazil, Mexico and Croatia fighting it out to qualify from Group A.

After a forgettable first half, it was the Dutch which found its rhythm with the impressive Arjen Robben causing Chile all sorts of problems.

But it was the introduction of substitutes Fer and Depay which made the difference.

Fer had only been on the pitch for two minutes when he sent a thumping header past Claudio Bravo in the Chile goal after meeting Darryl Janmaat's fine free kick.

And Depay, who became his country's youngest ever goalscorer at a World Cup during last week's 3-2 win over Australia, netted his second after great work by Robben.

"It was a very good game to watch," Robben said in a television interview following the game.

"There was a lot of passion on the pitch, we defended really well, I am proud of the way the team defended.

"I think we did a great job and this is not where we want to stop. It is a fantastic result and a fantastic performance and we don't want it to end here.

"We need to change our mindset as we want to move forward."

The Dutch, which lost out to Spain in the final four years ago, will play its second round game in Fortaleza on Sunday June 29.

Chile, which reached the last 16 in 1998 and 2010, will play its next game on Saturday 28th June in Belo Horizonte.

"I think that this was a match that we expected, with the Netherlands trying to use lots of people on the counter attack," Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli told reporters.

"We looked for victory, we wanted to win and we couldn't find a solution to a team that only defended and only aspired to long-range shots, not even counterattacks.

"This is a Chile that I am proud to be at the helm of, in spite of the fact that we didn't get a result. The courage of the group, they have their heads held high and they are getting ready for the round of 16."

Australia 0-3 Spain

In the group's other game, David Villa brought down the curtain on his international career by firing Spain to its first victory of the World Cup.

The reigning champion, which was knocked out of the tournament after losing its opening two games against Netherlands and Chile, defeated Australia in Curitiba.

Villa, making his 97th appearance for his country, scored his 59th goal just before halftime to ensure Spain avoided a humiliating whitewash.

The 32-year-old was in tears after being taken off after 57 minutes of the contest and watched on from the bench as Fernando Torres added a second.

Juan Mata fired home a third with eight minutes remaining to seal the win.

Australia, which lost all three games in the tournament, finishes bottom of the group, three points behind Spain.


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