Saturday 22 September, 2018

Brazil advance to round of 16 at World Cup, top Serbia 2-0

Brazil players celebrate a goal against Serbia.

Brazil players celebrate a goal against Serbia.

Paulinho and Thiago Silva earned Brazil a largely comfortable 2-0 victory over Serbia on Wednesday that clinched top spot in World Cup Group E and eliminated Mladen Krstajic's side.

Brazil's win set up a last-16 meeting with Mexico in Samara on Monday, while it is Switzerland, not Serbia, who will take on Sweden in St Petersburg the following day after drawing 2-2 with Costa Rica.

Tite's side left it late to get past Costa Rica on Friday, but they only had to wait 36 minutes for the opener in Moscow, Paulinho stabbing over Vladimir Stojkovic off a magnificent pass from Philippe Coutinho.

It was Paulinho's eighth goal since Tite took the helm in 2016 and brought his former Corinthians star back into the set-up, with only Neymar and Gabriel Jesus (10) scoring more for Brazil in the same timeframe.

The Barcelona midfielder was replaced by the more defensive Fernandinho in the 66th minute as Serbia went on the attack in a bid to save their World Cup campaign.

But Silva, the former captain who was shunned following Brazil's failure to lift the World Cup on home soil four years ago, wrapped up the win and kept hopes of an unprecedented sixth title alive.