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Late Casemiro strike sends Brazil into World Cup last 16

Late Casemiro strike sends Brazil into World Cup last 16

Brazil have qualified for the last 16 of the 2022 World Cup courtesy of a slender 1-0 win over Switzerland at Stadium 974 on Monday.

The five-time world champions were frustrated by a defensively solid Swiss outfit, but they managed to make the breakthrough in the 83rd minute with Casemiro firing the match winner into the top-right corner from inside the area.

Tite‘s side remain at the top of Group G and they have become the second nation to progress to the knockout rounds after World Cup holder France, who sealed their place in the last 16 after beating Denmark on Saturday.

After 11 goals were scored in the first two World Cup matches taking place on Monday, including six in the thrilling 3-3 draw between Cameroon and Serbia, supporters in Stadium 974 were left somewhat subdued by the pragmatic performances of both Brazil and Switzerland in the first half.

The best chance of the first 45 fell to Vinicius Junior in the 26th minute when he timed his run at the back post to perfection to reach a delightful curling cross from Raphinha on the right, but the Real Madrid winger scuffed his side-footed effort and Swiss stopper Yann Sommer was there to parry the ball out for a corner.

Brazil's Richarlison in action with Switzerland's Manuel Akanji on November 28, 2022© Reuters

Just five minutes later, Raphinha unleashed an audacious 35-yard strike after sprinting towards a loose ball in a central area, but his sweet strike was comfortably collected by Sommer.

Switzerland sat deep for the majority of the first half and their only real opening came six minutes before the break when Ruben Vargas almost turned Thiago Silva inside the area before Alisson Becker closed him down to collect the ball on the six-yard line.

The stadium lights momentarily dimmed before Raphinha whipped in an inviting corner into the danger zone two minutes before the interval, which was punched away by the right fist of Sommer.

Tite responded at half time to his side’s laboured first-half showing and replaced Lucas Paqueta with Rodrygo, who operated in an advanced role in behind central striker Richarlison.

Brazil’s defence were rarely tested in the first 45, but last-ditch defending was required early in the second half, with Vinicius Junior of all players tracking back to make a vital block inside the penalty box to prevent Djibril Sow from hitting to target.

Moments before Alisson was almost caught in possession by Breel Embolo, Brazil came close up the other end just before the hour mark when the outstretched right leg of Richarlison narrowly missed a beautiful cross from Vinicius Junior with the outside of his right boot.

Brazil fans celebrate after the match on November 28, 2022© Reuters

Vinicius Junior was the man who stepped up the most for Brazil in the absence of injured Selecao star Neymar, and the 22-year-old thought he had broken the deadlock in the 64th minute when he slotted a composed finish beyond Sommer into the bottom-right corner.

However, Selecao celebrations came to a halt as the goal was disallowed by VAR after Richarlison was caught offside in the build-up.

Switzerland deserve credit for their defensive display and they almost held on for a point, but with just seven minutes remaining they were undone by a sweet strike from Manchester United midfielder Casemiro, who was teed up by Rodrygo just inside the area on the left channel to sweep a deflected strike into the top-right corner.

Brazil are now the first nation in World Cup history to boast a 17-game unbeaten run in the group stage of the competition, a run which began back in 2002 when they last had their hands on the most prestigious trophy in world football.

Tite and co will now turn their attention to their final Group G clash on Friday against Cameroon, while Murat Yakin‘s Switzerland side will bid to seal their place in the last 16 when they take on Serbia.

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