Mexico falls to Neymar, Brazil

FORTALEZA, Brazil – Neymar scored early in the first half and set up Jo late in the second half to lift Brazil to a 2-0 win over Mexico in each team’s second group stage match of the FIFA Confederations Cup on Wednesday at the Estadio Castelao.

Mexico, which suffered consecutive losses for the first time since falling to Peru and Uruguay in the 2011 Copa America, could be eliminated from the competition if Italy wins or draws with Japan later.

Neymar put Brazil in front in the ninth minute with a stroke of brilliance.  The new Barcelona striker followed a deflected cross by Dani Alves and hammered the volley first time with his left foot, beating Jose de Jesus Corona from 16 meters.

Five minutes later, Corona was forced to peddle back and parry a cheeky Dani Alves chip over the bar for a Brazilian corner.

Neymar also helped the Brazilians ice the game, magically dribbling through Hiram Mier and Francisco Rodriguez inside the box before connecting with Jo at the back post for an insurance goal three minutes into second-half stoppage time.

Mier had one of Mexico’s few scoring chances in the first half with a hard-working effort, twice winning the ball, but his shot from the top right of the 18-yard box was wide of the far post in the 16th minute.

Neymar nearly had a second goal in the 23rd minute, sublimely taking a Fred cross off his chest to shed Mier, but his attempt from the edge of the 18-yard box was just off target.

In the second minute of first-half stoppage time, Giovani Dos Santos missed on a dangerous free kick opportunity diagonal with the 18, but his attempt near the touchline sailed off the top netting as Brazil went into the half with a deserved lead. 

Neymar remained dangerous in the second half, freeing Hulk on goal with a 55th minute give-and-go, but the Zeit St. Petersburg striker somehow missed the near post from six meters.

In the 65th minute, Paulinho made a long, penetrating run on a quick counter and found Neymar to his left.  Corona, however, dived to his right to get a piece of the attempt, which went out for Brazil’s fifth corner kick.

Pablo Barrera, who came on for Jorge Torres Nilo in the 70th minute, breathed life into the El Tri attack. Ten minutes after entering the game, he took on a pair of Brazilian defenders down the right and connected with Andres Guardado at the far post.  The Valencia midfielder couldn’t put a header on target.

One minute later, Dos Santos backheeled the ball to Barrera.  The Cruz Azul star’s deep cross bounced to the back post for Guardadao, whose shot was deflected away by Dani Alves.

Then, Neymar showed why he’s one of the world’s best players, setting up Jo in second-half stoppage time to put the game away for the host. 

Mexico, which dropped a 2-1 decision to Italy Sunday in Rio, will meet Japan Saturday in Belo Horizonte in its last group match.  Brazil, which defeated the Japanese, 3-0, Saturday, will take on Italy the same day in Salvador.