Paulinho and Silva clinch top spot for Brazil, book Mexico date
Paulinho and Silva clinch top spot for Brazil, book Mexico date
Brazil are in action against Serbia at the World Cup on Wednesday
28 June, 2018, 05:46
However, Serbia can throw a wrench in their plans with a victory, which would launch the Serbs into the knockout round and leave the Brazilians behind in Moscow praying for a Switzerland loss to keep them in the running.
Goals in either half from Paulinho and Thiago Silva were enough to send Brazil through, as they set up a last 16 clash against Mexico despite not being at their fluent best.
For Serbia, Mitrovic was a direct force up front, while Tadic picked up where he left off against Switzerland, being a threat down the right.
The breakthrough came 10 minutes before the break when Philippe Coutinho picked out Paulinho's run with an exquisite angled through ball from the left and his fellow Barcelona midfielder delicately flicked the ball over Stojkovic.
Serbia did manage to apply some pressure in the second half, although their finish was not up to par as Mitrovic squandered two chances after the hour mark.
Coutinho once again came through for Brazil as he put the victor home in the 91st minute while Neymar sealed the match off with one of his own in the 97th.
Tite, the Brazil coach, opted to field the same XI who started in the win against Costa Rica while Serbia, needing three points, made three changes, bringing in Antonio Rukavina, Milos Veljkovic and Adem Ljajic for Branislav Ivanovic, Dusko Tovic and Luka Milivojevic.
Serbia enjoyed their best chance of the match four minutes later - Alisson touching a risky cross from the right straight at Aleksandar Mitrovic whose diving header was saved off the line by a defender before deflecting back into the goalkeeper's hands.
But Silva, the former captain who was shunned following Brazil's failure to lift the World Cup on home soil four years ago, wrapped up the win and kept hopes of an unprecedented sixth title alive.
Brazil extend their FIFA World Cup group stage unbeaten streak to 15 games on their way to topping Group E.
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