Brazil 4-1 Cameroon: Neymar at the double as Seleção finish top of Group A
Another double from Neymar helped inspire Brazil to a 4-1 victory over Cameroon and a top place finish in Group A as the hosts finally put in the spectacular display their fans had craved.
Seleção weren’t vintage but were much more like their usual self and attacked with great flair.
Also, crucially, Fred was among the goals again as things are slowly starting to click into place for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team with substitute Fernandinho impressing and adding the fourth late on.
Like they did in the Confederations Cup last year, Brazil started at an incredible pace and should have gone ahead inside the opening minutes.
Neymar sliced open the Cameroon defence with a delicious pass but Paulinho couldn’t convert Hulk’s centre.
David Luiz was then forced to make an excellent clearance when Maxim Choupo-Moting got in behind the home backline before the Brazilian boy wonder had the crowd on their feet.
Neymar opened the scoring but he had Luiz Gustavo to thank for some excellent pressing.
The defensive midfielder, who has been excellent in the World Cup, pinched the ball in Cameroon’s half before crossing in for the Barcelona forward to slot into the corner with deadly composure.
Cameroon always remained a threat, though, and they silenced the crowd in the 26th minute.
Joël Matip had come close moments earlier from a corner before he was able to tap in from a few yards out as the Seleção defence was left embarrassingly open.
The hosts weren’t level for long as 11 minutes before half time Neymar grabbed his second of the match and fourth goal in the World Cup following a sensational run.
Marcelo found the youngster with a crucial first time pass and Neymar ran at the tentative Cameroon defence before beating Charles Itandje with an assured finish.
Brazil nearly scored the goal of the tournament just before half time too.
Neymar started the move with some flicks before Paulinho teed up Hulk but he failed to get his shot off and the liquid football move ended without the goal it deserved.
Seleção started with the same ferocity after the interval and should have added a third inside the opening minute before they did score again and finally Fred was on the scoresheet.
Fernandinho replaced Paulinho at half time and made an immediate impact as his neat work on the edge of the area teed up David Luiz to cross for Fred to nod in from close range.
The Brazil forward appeared to be in an offside position but the home fans didn’t care and Scolari was delighted that his faith in the 30-year-old was rewarded.
Cameroon tried to rally and the Brazil head coach responded by introducing Ramires for Hulk to help shore up his side defensively.
The aforementioned change slowed the pace of the game down as the second period failed to reach the same intensity we witnessed in the opening 45.
Meanwhile there was slight concern when Neymar went down injured and was replaced by Willian but it didn’t appear serious and Brazil cruised for the rest of the half.
There was more concern when Mexico grabbed a third against Croatia and made the possibility of Brazil finishing second a reality.
However, Fernandinho poked home Selecao’s fourth late on to cap a magnificent night for Scolari’s team who now face Chile on Saturday in the round of 16.
Brazil: Júlio César; Daniel Alves, Marcelo, David Luiz, Thiago Silva (c); Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho [Fernandinho 46’], Oscar, Neymar [Willian 71’], Fred, Hulk [Ramires 63’]
Unused subs: Jefferson, Dante, Maxwell, Henrique, Hernanes, Maicon, Victor, Jô, Bernard
Head Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari
Cameroon: Charles Itandje, Nyom, Nicolas N’Koulou, Joël Matip, Henri Bedimo, Stéphane Mbia, Benjamin Noukandjo [Edgar Salli 58’], Landry N'Guémo, Eyong Enoh, Maxim Choupo-Moting [Jean Makoun 81’], Vincent Aboubakar [Pierre Webó 72’].
Unused subs: Sammy Ndjock, Aurélien Chedjou, Dany Nounkeu, Loïc Feudjou, Samuel Eto’o, Cedric Djeugoue, Fabrice.
Head coach: Volker Finke