Cameroon 1 Brazil 4: Match highlights, key battle and what the result means
Published on Jun 24, 2014 6:42 AM
Once again, the scrawny kid from the mean streets of Sao Paulo uplifted an expectant nation of 200 million with his magical feet.
Cameroon were the latest victims of the force of football known as Neymar. In Brazil's 100th World Cup match, their wondrous No. 10 bagged a brace in a flattering 4-1 win that saw them top Group A and book a Round-of-16 clash with Chile.
The 22-year-old has embraced the ever-intensifying spotlight and pressure on his young shoulders, responding with sensational solo moves that surprise team-mates and opponents alike.
- Neymar's opener looked easy but really wasn't. Meeting Luis Gustavo's slide-rule pass across the box, the Barcelona ace shaped his body perfectly to sidefoot past Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje, who could only stand and admire as the ball sailed into the corner of his goal.
- Dani Alves' poor defending continues to be a worry for the hosts. The right-back was easily brushed aside by Allan Nyom as he cut the ball back for unmarked team-mate Joel Matip to tap in from close range to equalise.
- The defining moment of the match arrived just past the half-hour mark. With his team-mates and the partisan crowd looking shell-shocked from Matip's riposte, Neymar took matters into his own hands, or rather feet. Eyes solely on the ball, the forward breezed past three players before a swivel-and-shot sent Itandje grasping at thin air in the wrong direction.
- Besides killing off the game, Brazil's third goal was significant for targetman Fred, who has faced intense scrutiny for a perceived lack of incisiveness up front. The veteran got a lucky break, however, as replays showed he was offside when he headed in David Luiz's cross.
- Substitute Fernandinho's late toe-poke to cap off a rare and intricate passing move added gloss to the scoreline. The 80,000 fans at the Brasilia venue and millions more around the country exhaled with relief as the strike killed off Mexico's hopes of claiming top spot by goal difference.
Joel Matip vs Fred
Besides notching his team's only goal, the 22-year-old Matip can take heart from an encouraging display in the heart of Cameroon's backline. Brazilian marksman Fred had few clear sighters on goal and can count himself fortunate to even find himself on the scoresheet.
The 1.93-metre Matip, who plays for German outfit Schalke, was one of the few highlights from the Africans' forgettable campaign. He reads the game well, is dominant in the air and can carry the ball into midfield, a key requirement for a centre-back in today's game.
Man of the Match
Journalists are fast running out of superlatives for Brazil's golden boy. Four goals in three matches showcase an athlete who is seemingly enjoying all the obstacles thrown at him as he bids to win football's greatest prize on home soil.
Neymar's importance to Selecao's cause was highlighted in the 70th minute, when a slight knock to the knee immediately prompted manager Luis Felipe Scolari to withdraw the youngster as a precaution. It has boiled down to this: if Neymar does not perform, Brazil can't find another match-winner.
What this result means
Cameroon return home with zero points and just one goal to show for their efforts. A young team, much work remains as they seek to rebuild in the post-Samuel Eto'o era.
Alexis Sanchez and the spicy Chileans are up next for Brazil, who cannot afford to defend as they have against one of the competition's most impressive outfits. Hulk, Oscar and Fred also have to lift some of the burden from Neymar in attack.
David Luiz and Dani Alves remain accidents waiting to happen at the back, particularly against a pacey team like Chile, whose players work hard down the channels and execute well-timed diagonal runs into space.