MOSCOW: Brazil eased into the World Cup knockout stage after defeating Serbia 2-0 on Wednesday in their final group stage match. Paulinho scored the winner in the first half, and Thiago Silva netted another goal in the second to set up a date with Mexico in the round of 16.
Serbia had to draw to have a chance to move on, while a win would have secured a spot in the round of 16. As the match progressed, both Brazil and Serbia played aggressively to keep their teams ahead in the crucial game. The deadlock was finally broken when midfielder Paulinho put Brazil ahead as he netted a goal with the help of Coutinho's deft-chipped pass in the 36th minute.
In the second half, Serbia forward Aleksandar Mitrovic had two excellent chances to equalise with close-range headers. However, in the 68th minute, skipper and defender Thiago Silva gave the five-time world champions the second goal, when he powered a header into the corner position assisted by star striker Neymar, which was beyond Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic's reach, said an ANI report.
Neymar had an opportunity to make it 3-0 in the 87th minute, but Stojkovic blocked the ball from going into the net in a nick of time.
With this, Brazil finished the top of Group E with seven points in their kitty and will face Mexico in the knockout round.
Switzerland, who drew with Costa-Rica 2-2, also progressed to the round of 16 and will lock horns with Sweden next week.
With inputs from agencies
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