Brazil outclasses Serbia, sets up Mexico clash


Brazil are through to the knockout stages of the World Cup after a goal in each half from Paulinho and Thiago Silva gave them a victory over Serbia that ensured they progressed from Group E in first place.

Roared on by their outnumbered but deafening fans, striker Aleksandar Mitrovic had one instinctive reaction header blocked on the line and another well saved by Alisson as suddenly another upset seemed possible.

Brazil initially looked as if they would flatter to deceive again, with Neymar in particular appearing easy on the eye but with a distinct lack of cutting edge.

Serbia repeatedly struggled to contain Brazil's fleet-footed attack.

But the team has been distracted after two ethnic Albanian players, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri who play for Switzerland, made double eagle gestures in reference to the Albania flag. He said he's learned so much since then, leaving Tottenham for a spell in China before joining Barcelona. My leaving England for China was good for me, did me well.

Filipe Luis replaced him, and the Atletico Madrid man ensured that Marcelo, for all his qualities, was not missed. There was patient buildup play and the Brazilians sometimes rested in possession, exchanging short passes in their own half to slow down play.

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Having seen a seismic shock earlier in the day when Germany went out following a 2-0 defeat to South Korea, Brazil ensured they didn't suffer the same fate with an ultimately comfortable win at Spartak Stadium.

Brazil will have five days before taking on Group F runners-up Mexico, who were stunned 3-0 by Sweden in their final group game on Wednesday.

Mitrovic's shot had gone behind Alisson and was heading toward goal, but Silva got there in time to clear it away.

But now they are up and running, manager Tite will be confident of beating Serbia and topping the group.

In all competitions, Brazil are unbeaten in 13 matches (W9 D4 L0), conceding just three goals in that run.