Brazil sealed their spot in the Round of 16 with a convincing victory against Serbia in their final group game. The South Americans only needed a point to advance but, knowing Brazil, they were keen on topping the group (for the sake of being on the “favourable” side of the knockout bracket). In the other game in E, Switzerland also needed a point against Costa Rica to go through, which would take them behind Brazil in 2nd place.
The contingent of La Liga players popped up once again in the tournament as Coutinho played a beautiful lofted pass towards his Barcelona team-mate, Paulinho, and the central midfielder smartly dinked it over Stojkovic in goal. 1-0 after 36 minutes. Switzerland got a goal of their own five minutes before when Blerim Dzemaili blasted them in front. Both group favourites were on course to advance.
But Costa Rica came roaring back and equalized in the 56′ through a Kendall Waston header. He connected well to the ball from a corner and buried it home. That marked the first goal of Russia 2018 for the 2014 quarter-finalists. Brazil gave themselves some breathing space when Thiago Silva replicated Watson’s header from Neymar’s corner. There was a call for VAR, though, as there was a tussle between Miranda and Mitrovic as the corner was being taken, but the referee didn’t see it fit to consult the off-field officials because he thought that both players brought down each other.
The Swiss regained their lead in the 88th minute when Josip Drmic stormed through on goal and slotted home. But they were to be denied a final day victory as they conceded a penalty in stoppage time and saw the ball ricochet off Yann Sommer’s head and in after Bryan Ruiz’s strike came off the bar. It finished 1-1, while Brazil claimed top spot with a 2-0 win.
Brazil could now look forward to a showdown against Mexico in the last 16, a team they struggled to break down in their home World Cup four years ago, while Switzerland face Group F winners Sweden.
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