Brazil edge gritty Switzerland to gain round of 16 World Cup spot

Resolute Switzerland keep Brazil at bay for most of the match, but Casemiro’s audacious strike breaks the deadlock.

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Casemiro's goal sent Brazil fans jumping at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, on November 28, 2022 [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

A superb finish by Casemiro is enough to give Brazil victory over Switzerland and guarantee a place in the knock-out stages of the football World Cup in Qatar.

Brazil’s coach, Tite, had named nine forwards to his squad, but it took a defensive midfielder to break the scoreless deadlock in the 83rd minute of Monday’s match. Casemiro made an audacious strike from the outside of his boot, which took a tiny deflection off defender Manuel Akanji’s backside.

The result at Stadium 974 means Brazil, five-time world champions, qualify comfortably for the round of 16 with a game against Cameroon still to play in the group stage of the tournament.

Switzerland sit second in Group G after a thrilling six-goal draw between Serbia and Cameroon earlier in the day left both teams with a point each.

Brazil forward Neymar stayed at the team’s hotel, treating a right ankle injury sustained in the opener against Serbia. Team doctors have not yet given a timetable for his return – or said if he will return at all. In his absence, former Watford striker Richarlison took centre stage in Brazil’s attack but couldn’t find a way to score and was substituted for Gabriel Jesus in the 74th minute.

Switzerland managed not a single shot on target but were able to keep Brazil at bay for the majority of the match. The scoreless first half was a fairly even-handed affair.

Vinicius Jr thought he had given Brazil the lead with a shot from inside the area after a pass by Casemiro in the 64th minute, but a video review spotted Richarlison offside in the build-up to the strike.

After Casemiro’s lightning 83rd minute goal, Brazil looked likely to score a second – despite a brief flurried counterattack from the Swiss – as Vinicius Jr tried to take on Akanji when he could have passed. Moments later, he instead fed a ball to Rodrygo, only to see the forward’s shot blocked out for a corner.

Brazil, who have not lost a World Cup group stage game in 17 matches, are the second team to qualify for the round of 16 after defending world champions France.

Source: Al Jazeera