Neymar’s goal sends Brazil past Mexico


Neymar’s goal sends Brazil past Mexico

SAMARA, Russia

Neymar flaunted his flair and his theatrics with a goal and an assist to lead Brazil into the quarterfinals at the World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Mexico.

The world’s most expensive player put Brazil in the lead after his back-heel released Willian, who then sent the ball into the penalty area. Neymar slid in to tap in the opener in the 51st minute.

Neymar then showed his unselfish side, crossing for Robert Firmino to score in the 88th minute. Neymar has 11 goals and nine assists in his last 19 games for Brazil.

It looked like Neymar’s game — or even his World Cup — could be over with 20 minutes to go. It turned out to be pure histrionics. Writhing in agony after his right ankle was stepped on by Miguel Layun, Neymar managed to get back on his feet. But not before trying a stamp on Layun himself. Both escaped punishment.

The five-time World Cup champions will next face either Japan or Belgium in their seventh straight quarterfinal match, the stage they have reached at every World Cup since 1994.

Not so for the Mexicans, who have lost in the round of 16 seven straight times.

Late comeback leads Belgium over Japan

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia

Nacer Chaldi capped a comeback from a two-goal deficit when he scored in the fourth minute of injury time to give Belgium a 3-2 victory over Japan and a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals.

Japan led 2-0 on early second-half goals by Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui.

Jan Vertonghen then scored with a looping header that appeared to be a cross but dropped in under the crossbar in the 69th minute. Substitute Marouane Fellaini headed in another from Eden Hazard’s cross in the 74th.

Chaldi, who came on as a substitute in the 65th, decided it in injury time.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibault Courtois grabbed a corner kick and rolled the ball to Kevin De Bruyne, who dribbled to the top of the center circle and passed to Thomas Meunier on the right. Meunier one-timed the ball across the area and Romelu Lukaku let it roll by for Chaldi to tap in with his left foot from 7 yards.

The end-to-end attack took only 10 seconds.

Belgium is the first team to overturn a two-goal deficit in a World Cup knockout match since West Germany beat England in extra time at the 1970 tournament.

Belgium will next face Brazil in the quarterfinals on Friday in Kazan.

Associated Press

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