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World Cup Group A

Dante and Brazil march on, Mandzu out

Hosts Brazil have qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup on home soil as Group A winners. A Seleção and Bayern defender Dante lived up to their billing as favourites with a 4–1 victory in an entertaining match against Cameroon on Monday night. The five-time world champions now meet Chile on Saturday in their first knockout tie. Dante was an unused sub in the final group fixture.

The Brazilians went into the match knowing a draw would be enough for a place in the round of 16, but Felipe Scolari’s team delighted the vast majority of the 69,349 crowd at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia with an explosive opening, culminating in Neymar’s 17th minute opener.

Cameroon were already out of the tournament before kick-off but refused to bow out without a fight. Volker Finke’s Indomitable Lions battled their way into the contest and levelled on 26 minutes with Schalke centre-back Joel Matip’s first goal for his country. The home side had the crowd back on its feet in the 35th minute when Neymar restored the lead, and with euphoria gripping the stadium, Fred (49) and substitute Fernandinho (84) made the victory complete.

Croatia out, Mexico book clash with Dutch

Second spot in Group A was the prize on offer in Recife where Croatia and Mario Mandzukic faced Mexico. Niko Kovac’s side needed a win to make the knockout stages, whereas a draw would have been enough for the Central Americans. The Mexicans made the better start and Hector Herrera crashed a 20 yard drive off the crossbar after quarter of an hour.

The physically strong Croats dug in and made a fist of it for the rest of the first half, but proved short of ideas against the disciplined Mexican defence. Kovac’s men grew increasingly desperate as the second half wore on and space opened up for the ruthless Mexicans, who settled the contest with strikes by Rafael Marquez (72), Andres Guardado (75) and Javier Hernandez (82), before Ivan Perisic scored the East Europeans’ consolation three minutes from time. The 3-1 victory sees the Mexicans through to a knockout clash with the Netherlands and Arjen Robben on Sunday.