BRASILIA – Gp A: Cameroon 1, Brazil 4
—- Neymar played Cameroon virtually single-handed in the first half as Brazil pulled themselves together after an erratic start in their concluding Group A tie in the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia.
The Barcelona superstar scored twice and created only other chances for the World Cup hosts against a Cameroon managing their most competitive performance of the tournament, albeit too late.
Brazil needed to win to ensure they finished top of the group ahead of Mexico who finished runners-up on goal difference after beating Croatia 3-1.
The Africans, with no hope of qualifying after a woeful campaign in which some players were more interested in confronting each other than the opposing teams, had promised to show a more positive face of their football.
Volker Finke’s team were unfortunate to go behind in the 18th minute when Luiz Gustavo broke down the left and Neymar ghosted in to open the scoring from close range.
Cameroon hit back, to the Brazilians’ surprise when Schalke’s Joel Matip tapped in from close range after a left-wing cross.
However Neymar then struck again to ease Brazilian nerves, darting in from the left and, from just outside the penalty box, shooting low past the clawing right hand of keeper Charles Itandje.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari brought on Manchester City’s Fernandinho in place of Tottenham’s Paulinho after half-time and he had an immediate impact, setting up a third Brazilian goal for Fred who could hardly miss from almost on the goal line.
Neymar, on one yellow card, stayed on the pitch – probably in the hope of a hat-trick – until coming in for some heavy tackles and being substituted, protectively by Scolari.
News then began to drift around the stadium that Mexico were going for goals in Recife and trying to catch Brazil’s goal difference at the top of the table.
Fernandinho then provided reassurance for Brazil with a fourth goal before Mexico conceded a goal in Recife.
** Cameroon played without defender Alex Song against Brazil after he was handed a three-match ban after being sent off in their previous game against Croatia.
The Barcelona midfielder had been sent off for elbowing striker Mario Mandzukic in the back in the 40th minute of their Group A match on June 18.
Cameroon were a single goal down at the time and went on to a 4-0 defeat which confirmed their early elimination from the tournament.
Song, apart from missing the Brazil match, will also be unavailable for his country’s next two official matches. He has also been fined $22,300.
Mexico have been cleared of improper conduct charges after claims their fans used homophobic chants at their game against CAmeroon.
FIFA said the incident in question “was not considered insulting in the specific context”.