World Cup: Brazil’s 2 Goals Knock Out Mexico, Belgium-Japan Next

World Cup: Brazil’s 2 Goals Knock Out Mexico, Belgium-Japan Next

News Staff

Brazil strengthened their claim on the title of World Cup tournament favorite Monday by advancing to the quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory over Mexico.

Neymar broke the deadlock in the 51st minute of the game at Samara Arena, sliding toward goal and tapping in after Willian sprinted down the left and fired in a low cross.

The goal made Brazil the World Cup all-time scoring leader with 227 goals, surpassing Germany with 226.

Later in the day, Belgium and Japan will face off for the right to play Brazil in the quarterfinals.

Mexico often threatened Brazil but were unable to withstand Brazil’s attacks.

Neymar assisted on the second goal, firing an 88th-minute shot at Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa that flew into the path of attacker Firmino, who tapped the ball in.

So many favorites have been eliminated already from the World Cup — Germany, Argentina and Portugal among them — that Brazil, trying to make amends for its disappointing 2014 tournament, now has a strong shot at leaving Russia with a sixth title.

Mexico was seeking the elusive “quinto partido” — fifth game, a trip to the quarterfinals — for the first time since 1986. El Tri had made it to the round of 16 for the past six tournaments, only to stall out at that stage.

Mexico was unable to pull of a similar upset to their 1-0 victory over Germany in the group opener, its first victory over the four-time champions in a competitive match.

Thirty-nine-year-old Mexican defender Rafael Marquez became the first player picked in a starting 11 at five World Cups.

Belgium is the leading scorer of the World Cup and faces Asia’s last remaining representative at the final match hosted at Rostov Arena.

Belgium has been led by Romelu Lukaku, who has four goals in the tournament and trails only the five scored by England striker Harry Kane. While chasing the Golden Boot, Lukaku will also be trying to help Belgium equal its World Cup record of four consecutive wins set four years ago in Brazil.

A victory over Japan would put the Red Devils in the quarterfinals for only the third time.

Belgium is rested because it qualified for the knockout round before its group finale against England and was able to rest many of its starters. Belgium still beat England to go 3-0 in group play.

Japan advanced from the group phase on “fair play,” a rule that debuted this year. Japan and Senegal finished with four points each, had the same goal difference, scored the same number of goals and even drew 2-2. So it went to a tiebreaker, the disciplinary records, and Japan had fewer yellow cards than Senegal.

Japan should be led by former Manchester United forward Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda, a former AC Milan player who is dangerous on free kicks.