USA TODAY Sports’ Martin Rogers takes us along while he explores Russia on a day in which there was no action in the World Cup.
USA TODAY Sports
MOSCOW — Mexico’s World Cup campaign ended in familiar fashion on Monday, with a 2-0 defeat to Brazil in the round of 16.
A second-half goal from Neymar put the Brazilians ahead in Samara and ultimately condemned Mexico to its seventh straight defeat at this stage of soccer’s biggest tournament.
With two minutes left, Neymar surged forward and slid the ball across the face of goal for Roberto Firmino to prod home – and put the contest beyond all doubt.
Brazil went in as a strong favorite and piled on the pressure in the first half, peppering the Mexico goal and being kept out by a series of saves from goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
However, Ochoa could do little about Neymar’s 51st-minute strike, the world’s most expensive player sliding the ball home after an accurate low cross from Willian.
Brazil will now face the winner of Monday’s later second round clash between Belgium and Japan, while Mexico is left to reflect on another campaign that promised much but ultimately fell short.
An opening victory over defending champion Germany was a major highlight, as was a hard-fought win over South Korea. Things went downhill for Juan Carlos Osorio’s side from there, however, with the team outplayed by Sweden, and then outclassed by the talented and cohesive Brazilians.
Ochoa kept his team in contention with more heroics as the second half progressed, including a diving save on Willian, but Mexico simply lacked the attacking composure needed to offer any kind of legitimate threat.
And thus, another World Cup run ended for Mexico, another four-game adventure that went no further, another promising opportunity spurned, and another reminder that while it is a competitive World Cup team, it remains a lot way short of elite level.