“This is one of the happiest days of my life. It was a fight, but my team pulled through.”
Brazil’s Neymar scored twice in a 4-1 demolition of Cameroon to qualify for the knockout stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Javier Hernandez scored his 36th international goal as Mexico finished second in Group A, after beating Croatia 3-1.
Diego Godin scored the winner for Uruguay as the South Americans advanced to round 16 after defeating Italy 1-0. Hence Italy were out of the World Cup.
Costa Rica finished top of Group D, with seven points after a 0-0 draw with England in Belo Horizonte.
Group A: Cameroon 1 Brazil 4 – 9pm (BST) KO, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia – Monday
Brazil sealed qualification for the knockout stages after beating Cameroon 4-1.
In the 17th minute, a low inviting cross from Luis Gustavo picked out Neymar as he allowed the ball to run across his body, before executing a sublime finish.
Cameroon created chances and the cross bar saved Thiago Silva from scoring an own goal.
The stadium was stunned into silence in the 26th minute as Joel Matip tapped into a gaping goal, following some fine work on the right by Allan Nyom.
Neymar restored Brazil’s lead after latching onto a Marcelo pass before cutting inside, side stepping a challenge and drilling a low shot past Charles Itandje. This was Neymar’s 35th goal in 52 games in the yellow jersey.
The introduction of Fernandinho after the break injected some zest into the Brazilians.
There was further relief for Brazil as Fred finally scored after he headed in a David Luiz cross. Fernandinho sealed the victory six minutes from the end after poking in from ten yards.
At 22 year’s old, Golden Boy, Neymar proved just why he is regarded as a world class saviour for Brazil. After scoring a brace, Neymar said:
“I’m now playing in matches that I always dreamed about. I just want to help my fellow players not only by scoring goals but doing whatever it takes on the pitch to help us win.”
Group A: Croatia 1 Mexico 3 – 9pm (BST) KO, Arena Pernambuco, Recife – Monday
Mexico claimed a last 16 spot after knocking out Croatia 3-1 in Recife. Both teams had a chance of qualifying as they headed into the game and it was not until the last twenty minutes that the match erupted.
Mexican defender, Rafael Marquez who had made history by becoming the first player ever to captain his national side in four World cups in a row got the ball rolling.
In the 72nd minute, Marquez powered in a header from a corner. Three minutes later Andres Guardado doubled the advantage for the Mexicans.
Super sub, Javier Hernandez sealed the victory in the 82nd minute after nodding in at the far post ending his eleven game goal drought.
Croatia got themselves a consolation goal from Ivan Perisic, the first goal Mexico had conceded in the finals. Ante Rebic was sent off for Croatia for a bad foul on Carlos Pena.
Rejoiced by the occasion, Mexican coach Miguel Herrera said: “This is one of the happiest days of my life. It was a fight, but my team pulled through.”
Group D: Costa Rica 0 England 0 – 5pm (BST) KO, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte – Tuesday
England ended their dismal World Cup campaign with a goalless draw against Costa Rica to finish bottom of Group D.
Roy Hodgson made nine changes to the team that played against Uruguay with Daniel Sturridge and Gary Cahill the only survivors.
It was a game neither side will want to remember as both teams failed to impress. Sturridge had two good opportunities, but could not find the back of the net.
The second half was slightly livelier as Costa Rica goalkeeper, Keylor Navas made a good save from a Wayne Rooney chip.
However the game fizzled out as England bought on Steven Gerrard to partner Frank Lampard in the middle of the field. And so England’s wretched World Cup ended in a 0-0 draw against the team nicknamed, Los Ticos.
After the match, distraught England fan, Zunaid posted on twitter: “Another rubbish performance from England, heartbreak four years way.”
England finished bottom of the group for the first time in the finals since 1958.
Group D: Italy 0 Uruguay 1 – 5pm (BST) KO, Estadio das Dunas, Natal – Tuesday
Uruguay clinched the second qualifying place after defeating Italy. Luis Suarez hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Four time World Cup winners Italy had the early chances as Andre Pirlo had his free kick tipped over the bar and Ciro Immobile shot over.
The game changed in the 58th as Claudio Marchisio was sent off for Italy for a stud showing foul.
In the 81st minute, there was controversy as Giorgio Chiellini complained to the referee that Suarez had bitten him after a clash in the penalty area. Chielleni pulled his shirt off to show the bite mark to the referee as he was fuming with anger.
To add insult to injury, a minute later, a Suarez corner was headed into the net by Godin to seal the match and passage into the next round.
FIFA has started disciplinary proceedings against Luis Suarez. Suarez and the Uruguyan FA have been given a deadline tonight to respond.
Brazil will have to be at their best to see off Chile in the last 16 on Saturday 28, June 2014. Mexico take on three time World Cup runners-up, Netherlands on Sunday 29 June 2014. Meanwhile, Costa Rica’s dream continues at the World Cup.