Brazil see off Serbia to top group

Neymar EFE

Brazil are through to the knockout stages of the World Cup after a goal in each half from Paulinho and Thiago Silva gave them a victory over Serbia that ensured they progressed from Group E in first place.

Gabriel Jesus had already forced a close-range block from Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic when Marcelo limped off the field after a back spasm on 10 minutes, but the early setback did not prevent Brazil seizing control of Group E nine minutes before half-time.

But the Brazilians broke the deadlock moments later and Philippe Coutinho was at the heart of the move as he picked out the run of Paulinho with a delightful pass over the top, and the midfielder lifted the ball over Stojkovic from 16 yards out to score. Serbia was eliminated, finishing third in the group behind Switzerland.

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Roared on by their outnumbered but deafening fans, striker Aleksandar Mitrovic had one instinctive reaction header blocked on the line and another well saved by Alisson as suddenly another upset seemed possible.

And when it looked Serbia were growing into the game midway the second half, Brazil snuffed the life out of coach Mladen Krstaji?'s boys.

In a week in which numerous pre-tournament favourites have struggled, Brazil gave a very assured performance, particularly in the first half.

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With the biggest South Korea upset against Germany, in the day's first game, Brazil had all to do if they were to avoid another embarrassing exit like the former champions.

Switzerland also advanced after a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica and will next face Sweden on Tuesday in St. Petersburg.

Mitrovic towered over right-back Fagner near the 65th minute but only to fire his header straight at Alisson with the entire goal to shoot at.

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But, having needed two goals in stoppage-time to beat Costa Rica in their last game having been held 1-1 by Switzerland in their opener, they took a long time to make any impression on a well-drilled and rugged Serbian defence.

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