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Brazil ease into last 16 with win over Serbia

Brazil ease into last 16 with win over Serbia

The victory, and Switzerland's 2-2 draw with Costa Rica, meant Brazil finished top of Group E on seven points, two ahead of the Swiss who will face Sweden in the last 16.

Paulinho broke the deadlock in the 36th minute when he timed his run perfectly to reach Philippe Coutinho's lofted-through pass and flick the ball over goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic. Serbia was eliminated, finishing third in the group behind Switzerland.

Neymar is likely to start for Brazil in a mostly unchanged lineup against Serbia on Wednesday at the World Cup.

The Serbs almost scored in the 61st when Brazil goalkeeper Alisson pushed the ball into the path of forward Aleksandar Mitrovic, whose shot bounced off the keeper and was bound for goal before being cleared by Silva.

He made sure the crowd in Moscow's Spartak Stadium were kept entertained in Brazil's last group game of the competition.

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It was Paulinho's eighth goal since Tite took the helm in 2016 and brought his former Corinthians star back into the set-up, with only Neymar and Gabriel Jesus (10) scoring more for Brazil in the same timeframe.

The South American giants suffered a setback in the 10th minute, however, when Marcelo was forced off with what appeared to be a foot injury, with Filipe Luis replacing him at left-back.

No one would be surprised if they beat the Balkan team and they only need to gain one point to guarantee a place in the knockout stage.

Mitrovic's shot had gone behind Alisson and was heading toward goal, but Silva got there in time to clear it away. A Seleção dictated the pace of this game for large parts, although it should also be acknowledged that they were under major pressure when Thiago Silva popped up to head home that decisive second goal.

Mitrovic then headed straight at Alisson when he found himself free in the box, as Serbia failed to land the telling blow with Brazil rocking.