Struggling and unconvincing without Neymar on the field, Brazil still played well enough to secure a spot in the next round of the World Cup.
The five-time champions overcame the absence of their injured star to beat Switzerland, 1-0, with a late goal Monday and make it to the round of 16 with a match to spare in Group G.
“Of course we miss a player like Neymar,” Brazil coach Tite said. “The team loses a lot without him. But we also have other players who can get the job done, as we saw it today.”
Casemiro got the only goal in the 83rd minute of a game in which Brazil had difficulties creating scoring chances without its main playmaker. The defensive midfielder scored with a one-timer into the far corner, using the outside of his right foot for a shot that deflected slightly off defender Manuel Akanji.
“We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. We had to be patient,” Casemiro said. “Out first objective was to advance and we achieved that.”
Neymar stayed at the team’s hotel to treat a right ankle injury sustained in the opener in Qatar. He posted an Instagram story showing him watching the match on television while undergoing treatment on his foot.
“Casemiro has been the best defensive midfielder in the world for a long time,” Neymar wrote on Twitter.
Team doctors have not yet given a timetable for Neymar’s return — or said if he will return at all. Vinícius Júnior said Neymar also had a fever on Monday, though the team had not officially said anything about it.
“We know that Neymar is a great player and that he makes a difference,” Brazil defender Marquinhos said. “In difficult moments he takes on the responsibility and creates the opportunities, but we showed once again that we have quality players to make up for his absence.”
The win gave Brazil six points from two matches, leaving Switzerland with three. Serbia and Cameroon, which drew, 3-3, earlier Monday, have one point each.
Portugal advances to last 16, beats Uruguay 2-0 at World Cup
Cristiano Ronaldo wheeled away in celebration, acting as though he had scored once again at the World Cup.
Not this time.
Instead, it was Bruno Fernandes eventually credited with the goal that set up Portugal’s 2-0 win over Uruguay on Monday, advancing the team into the last 16.
Fernandes curled in a cross from the left that barely went over the head of the leaping Ronaldo and bounced into the far corner of the net in the 54th minute to give Portugal a 1-0 lead.
A grinning Ronaldo threw his arms in the air, suggesting he got the final touch, and was embracing Fernandes as multiple close-up replays were being shown on the big screens in Lusail Stadium.
Alas for Ronaldo, the goal wound up being awarded to Fernandes, who added a second from the penalty spot in stoppage time after a handball by Jose Maria Gimenez as he slid in to challenge the Manchester United playmaker.
“I don’t really think it matters who scored,” Fernandes said about the first goal. “The feeling at the time was that he (Ronaldo) touched the ball — I was crossing it to him — but what’s important was we moved into the next round and beat a very big opponent.”
Fernandes was denied a hat trick with virtually the last kick of the game, his shot from outside the area hitting the post and bouncing wide.
Portugal, which opened with a 3-2 win over Ghana, became the third team to reach the last 16 after France and Brazil.
Uruguay has one point from two matches and needs to beat Ghana on Friday to stand a chance of advancing.
Kudus scores two, Ghana beats South Korea 3-2
Mohammed Kudus said there wasn’t much difference between the way Ghana played in its opening World Cup match against Portugal or its second game against South Korea.
Except the result, of course.
Kudus scored twice, including the go-ahead goal after the South Koreans evened the match in the second half, and Ghana staved off elimination with a 3-2 victory.
Mohammed Salisu also scored for the Black Stars, who were disappointed after a close 3-2 opening loss to Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal and were in need of points against South Korea for a chance to reach the knockout round in Qatar.
“I think the game against Portugal was one of the best games you can have. The energy and the commitment from the whole team was good. So we approached this game the same way,” Kudus said. “We have the same mentality game after game after game, so we are going in the same direction with the same energy no matter who we play.”
Down, 2-0, Cho Gue-sung scored both of South Korea’s goals about three minutes apart early in the second half to even the game at 2-2.
But Kuduss’ low left-footed goal in the 68th minute sailed out of the reach of goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu to give the Black Stars back the lead. Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi preserved the victory with a leaping save off Cho’s attempt in stoppage time.
Cameroon stages World Cup comeback after dropping goalkeeper
Cameroon staged an impressive comeback in a 3-3 draw against Serbia at the World Cup despite replacing its goalkeeper at the last minute.
Andre Onana, who plays for Italian club Inter Milan, wasn’t in Cameroon’s lineup or even at the stadium to watch the Group G match.
Cameroon was down, 3-1, but second-half substitute Vincent Aboubakar turned the game with a goal and an assist.
He lobbed Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic in the 64th minute to score his 34th goal for the Indomitable Lions, and set up striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting two minutes later for the equalizer.
“The lion roared today,” Aboubakar said. “I dedicate this result to the squad, and to the people of Cameroon.”
The thrilling draw was the first game at the World Cup in Qatar in which both teams gave up a lead.
But the result suited neither side.
They each have one point after two Group G matches, two points behind Switzerland after the Swiss lost to Brazil later Monday.