Sao Paulo, Jun 24 (PTI): The immensely talented Neymar was in his element as his predatory skills ensured that he struck twice as Brazil walloped Cameroon 4-1 to finish on top of group A as they set up a pre-quarter-final date with Chile, who lost 0-2 to the Netherlands in FIFA World Cup yesterday.
By virtue of finishing on top of group B, the Dutchman sailed into the Round of 16 where they would meet a dangerous Mexico which demolished Croatia 3-1 with late burst.
In an inconsequential match of the day, World Champions Spain finished their engagements with a consolation 3-0 win over Australia.
Brazil were always overwhelming favourites against the ‘Indomitable Lions’ who have had a forgettable World Cup this time. Their coach rightly benched a horribly out of form Samuel Eto’o but nothing changed for the African side.
Neymar struck twice in the 17th and 34th minute while striker Fred headed home in the 49th minute. Fernandinho completed the rout with an 84th minute strike.
For Cameroon, Matip had equalised in the 26th minute but they could only prevent Brazil for eight minutes before they again surged ahead.
For Mexico, a draw was enough but a 10-minute blitz from 72nd to 82nd minute saw them fire home thrice with their inspirational skipper Rafael Marquez breaking the deadlock in the 72 minute.
Andres Guardado scored within another three minutes before Javier Hernandez rounded off the tally in the 82nd minute. Ivan Perisic got a consolation goal at the fag end of the match.
In an earlier group B match between Holland and Chile, the interest was on who would top the group.
Coach Louis van Gaal made double substitutions after a barren first hour and it worked wonderfully as substitutes Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay scored in the final quarter to ensure the top spot for the ‘Oranje’ brigade.
On both occasions, it was Arjen Robben, who provided with the accurate assists as the Netherlands ended the group engagements with 10 goals from three matches.
For Spain, it was a tearful farewell as the La Roja finally showed their class with David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata scoring on either side of the break.
The introduction of Villa from the start and also having young Juan Mata in the park gave an indication that Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque might have got a trick or two wrong in the team’s earlier two matches.
In the Brazil game, it was Neymar whose deft placement got Brazil the lead in the 17th minute. Luiz Gustavo provided a neat assist from the left flank which the Barcelona man diverted into net as Cameroon goalie hopelessly looked at it.
Cameroon did equalize in the 26th minute when Joel Matip tapped home taking advantage of the defensive lapse that saw the duo Thiago Silva and David Luiz stranded.
If Neymar’s first strike was a typical poacher’s goal, the second one was skill personified when he cut past one of the opposition player with an outside dodge before firing a low shot underneath the second defender which caught the Cameroonian custodian wrong-footed.
Scolari’s decision to get Fernandinho on the park in the second half proved to be a good move as he freed David Luiz on the left to essay a centre which Fred headed home to score his first Cup goal.
However just like the controversial penalty that he earned for Brazil against Croatia in the first game, this goal also didn’t look a clean one as television replays suggested that Fred might just have been standing in an off-side position.
The relief was palpable for him after having drawn a lot of flak for not being able to become a proper support for Neymar upfront.
The fourth and final goal was scored by Frenandinho with a placement past the surging goalie Charles Itandje.