Neymar led his team to the World Cup quarterfinals with a dominating performance — and did something Messi and Ronaldo have both failed to do

Buda Mendes/Getty ImagesBrazil’s 2-0 victory over Mexico on Monday didn’t come easy, but the winningest team in World Cup history proved why it’s such a force in a deconstruction of El Tri, with Neymar leading the way.
  • Brazil defeated Mexico on Monday to earn a spot in the 2018 World Cup quarterfinals.
  • The heroics from Brazil came in large part from Neymar, who had both a goal and an assist in the match.
  • Neymar is leading his team further than Argentina and Portugal, and he accomplished a feat that has eluded both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo thus far in their international careers: scoring in the knockout stage of the World Cup.

Brazil continued its run for redemption through the 2018 World Cup on Monday with a 2-0 win over Mexico to earn a spot in the quarterfinals.

Led by a heroic effort from its offensive centrepiece, Neymar, Brazil recovered from a somewhat slippery start to the match with two second-half goals to send Mexico home on its first game of the knockout stage for the seventh straight tournament.

The action started when Neymar accomplished something Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are still looking to cross off of their bucket lists: scoring a goal in the World Cup’s knockout stage.

In the 51st minute, Neymar pushed the ball up the left side of the field before making a sharp turn toward the center, just before getting to the box.

As he continued to draw his defenders’ attention, Neymar dropped the ball off with a backheel to Willian, who darted toward the goal and centered the ball low, finding Neymar just completing his break to send home the first goal of the game.

https://twitter.com/TheWorldGame/status/1013801618339332098

Neymar’s brilliance didn’t stop there.

With Brazil looking to hold on to a 1-0 lead through the final whistle, Neymar would instead help his team to an insurance goal in the final minutes of the match.

After Mexico lost an errant pass in the midfield in the 89th minute, Neymar collected the ball and began running Brazil up the field with a numbers advantage. After a few touches, he centered the ball to beat the goalie and set up Roberto Firmino with a wide-open net.

https://twitter.com/TheWorldGame/status/1013811121092898816

Despite a great effort from Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa that was reminiscent of his otherworldly performance against Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, El Tri didn’t have the players to compete with Brazil.

Neymar certainly didn’t do it alone – and his supporting cast is far more helpful than that of Messi or Ronaldo – but his performance on Monday made clear that with some of the most marketable stars in soccer already out of the tournament, Neymar is indeed a player to watch as it continues.

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