Serbia 0-2 Brazil: Paulinho and Thiago Silva take Brazil through
Serbia finish third in World Cup Group E behind Switzerland
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 28/06/18 1:56pm
Brazil eliminated Serbia and secured their place in the second round of the World Cup after a comfortable 2-0 victory in Moscow.
Brazil were at risk of becoming the second World Cup heavyweight to crash out on Wednesday following Germany's shock exit, but Paulinho's lob settled the nerves on 36 minutes and Thiago Silva's second-half header (68) confirmed their passage as Group E winners.
The victory means Tite's side will play Mexico in Samara on Monday afternoon and could then potentially face the winner of England's group in a quarter-final.
Serbia will fly home after picking up only three points in Group E with Switzerland joining Brazil in the last 16 following their 2-2 draw with Costa Rica.
Serbia: Stojkovic (7), Rukavina (7), Kolarov (7), Veljkovic (6), Milenkovic (6), Tadic (7), Kostic (6), Milinkovic-Savic (7), Matic (7), Ljajic (6), Mitrovic (5)
Subs: Zivkovic (6), Radonic (n/a), Jovic (n/a)
Brazil: Alisson (7), Thiago Silva (7), Miranda (7), Marcelo (n/a), Fagner (6), Casemiro (7), Coutinho (8), Paulinho (7), Jesus (7), Neymar (7), Willian (6)
Subs: Filipe Luis (7), Fernandinho (7), Renato Augusto (n/a)
Man of the match: Philippe Coutinho
Gabriel Jesus had already forced a close-range block from Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic when Marcelo limped off the field after a back spasm on 10 minutes, but the early setback did not prevent Brazil seizing control of Group E nine minutes before half-time.
Philippe Coutinho was the architect in central midfield, lofting a long ball into the path of Paulinho who broke the offside trap and let the ball bounce once before lifting it over the onrushing Stojkovic into the goal.
Brazil coach Tite stuck with the same side that left it late to beat Costa Rica last Friday. Meanwhile, Serbia made three changes from the defeat to Switzerland as Branislav Ivanovic, Dusko Tosic and Luka Milivojevic all dropped out of the starting XI.
Serbia needed to win to qualify and rocked their opponents with a flurry of second-half chances. After Miranda had almost steered an Adem Ljajic ball into his own net, Aleksandar Mitrovic missed with two headers, the first striking Thiago Silva after Alisson's flap and the second straight at the goalkeeper from close range.
Those misses were promptly punished in the 68th minute when Neymar sent in a corner from the left and Thiago Silva rose at the front post to beat Nikola Milenkovic to the ball and power home a header.
The goal burst Serbia's momentum and the only question in the closing stages was whether Neymar would get on the scoresheet. He bounced a Willian cross over the bar and Stojkovic swatted away a late effort as Brazil's talisman was frustrated.
Stojkovic recovered to deny him once more in stoppage time and despite his individual disappointment, the five-time World Cup winners can now celebrate qualification for the knock-out stage with Serbia left to rue the controversial late defeat to Switzerland in their second match that proved so costly.
- Brazil have qualified from the Round 1 Group Stage of the World Cup for the 13th consecutive tournament.
- Serbia have been eliminated at the group stage of the World Cup in all three of their tournaments as an independent nation.
- Brazil won back-to-back World Cup matches for the first time since 2010.
- Neymar has now scored five times and assisted twice in eight World Cup appearances for Brazil.
- Only Neymar and Gabriel Jesus (10 goals) have scored more goals for Brazil under current manager Tite than Paulinho (8 goals).
- Thiago Silva's last three goals for Brazil have all come in June.
- Brazil have won 19 of their 24 matches under Tite (D4 L1), giving the Brazilian manager a win percentage of 79%.
Man of the match - Philippe Coutinho
This was a comfortable evening for Brazil and while much of their attacking play inevitably revolved around Neymar - who failed with three late opportunities - the star man, as he has been for much of the World Cup, was Coutinho. His brilliant ball for Paulinho created the opening goal and his wise passing from the middle of the park ensured his team was always in control of this game.
Brazil will play Mexico in Samara on Monday afternoon (3pm kick-off), while Switzerland travel to St Petersburg to face Sweden on Tuesday afternoon (3pm kick-off).