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Brazil struggles, advances despite not having Neymar

by TALES AZZONI AP Sports Writer | November 29, 2022 at 3:21 a.m.
Brazil's Casemiro celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Switzerland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

DOHA, Qatar -- Struggling and unconvincing without Neymar on the field, Brazil still played well enough to secure a spot in the next round of the World Cup.

The five-time champions overcame the absence of their injured star to beat Switzerland 1-0 with a late goal Monday and make it to the round of 16 with a match to spare in Group G.

"Of course we miss a player like Neymar," Brazil Coach Tite said. "The team losses a lot without him. But we also have other players who can get the job done, as we saw it today."

Defensive midfielder Casemiro got the only goal in the 83rd minute of a game in which Brazil had difficulties creating scoring chances without its main playmaker. The Real Madrid player scored with a one-timer into the far corner, using the outside of his right foot for a shot that deflected slightly off defender Manuel Akanji.

"We knew that it wasn't going to be easy. We had to be patient," Casemiro said. "Out first objective was to advance and we achieved that."

Neymar stayed at the team's hotel to treat a right ankle injury sustained in the opener in Qatar. He posted an Instagram story showing him watching the match on television while undergoing treatment on his foot.

Team doctors have not yet given a timetable for Neymar's return -- or said if he will return at all.

The win gave Brazil six points from two matches, leaving Switzerland with three. Serbia and Cameroon, which drew 3-3 earlier Monday, have one point each.

Switzerland, which had no attempts on target, needs a win in the last match against Serbia to guarantee its spot in the next stage. A draw may be enough depending on the match between Brazil and Cameroon.

Switzerland had lost only two of its last 13 group matches at the World Cup.

"I can't really blame the team, it did a good job for quite some time," Switzerland Coach Murat Yakin said through a translator. "I don't think it's a disappointment. We have a lot of good takeaways here. The next game is something we have control over."

It was an even match early on, with both teams trying to control the game but not creating many significant chances. Without Neymar, Brazil struggled to get near Switzerland's area until Casemiro's goal. The assists came from Vinicius Junios and Rodrygo, the Real Madrid players who until recent had Casemiro as their teammate. Casemiro now plays for Manchester United.

PORTUGAL 2, URUGUAY 0

LUSAIL, Qatar -- Cristiano Ronaldo wheeled away in celebration, acting as though he had scored yet another goal at the World Cup.

Not this time.

Instead, it was Bruno Fernandes eventually credited with the goal that set up Portugal's win over Uruguay on Monday, advancing the team into the last 16.

Fernandes curled in a cross from the left that barely went over the head of the leaping Ronaldo and bounced into the far corner of the net in the 54th minute to give Portugal a 1-0 lead.

A grinning Ronaldo threw his arms in the air, suggesting he got the final touch, and was embracing Fernandes as multiple close-up replays were being shown on the big screens in Lusail Stadium.

The goal wound up being awarded to Fernandes, who added a second from the penalty spot in stoppage time after a handball by Jose Maria Gimenez.

Portugal, which opened with a 3-2 win over Ghana, became the third team to reach the last 16 after France and Brazil.

Uruguay has one point from two matches and needs to beat Ghana on Friday to stand a chance of advancing.

GHANA 3, SOUTH KOREA 2

AL RAYYAN, Qatar -- Mohammed Kudus scored twice, including the go-ahead goal after South Korea evened the match in the second half, and Ghana staved off elimination.

Mohammed Salisu also scored for the Black Stars, who lost their opening match against Portugal and were in need of points for a chance to reach the knockout round in Qatar.

Down 2-0, Cho Geu-sung scored both of South Korea's goals about three minutes apart early in the second half to even the game at 2-2.

South Korea forward Son Heung-min remained without a goal in Qatar. The Tottenham forward wore a mask to protect a broken left eye socket he sustained in a Champions League game against Marseille earlier this month.

CAMEROON 3, SERBIA 3

AL WAKRAH, Qatar -- Substitute Vincent Aboubakar scored one goal and created another as Cameroon rallied from 3-1 down to draw with Serbia.

He lobbed a shot over goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic in the 64th minute and then set up striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting two minutes later.

The thrilling draw was the first game at the World Cup in Qatar in which both teams gave up a lead.

Cameroon led through central defender Jean-Charles Castelletto's 29th minute tap-in but also conceded twice in quick succession.

Strahinja Pavlovic headed home in the first minute of first-half stoppage time and, two minutes later, midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic struck from 20 meters.

Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic made it 3-1 in the 53rd.

Cameroon coach Rigobert Song dropped goalkeeper Andre Onana for the match. It was not immediately clear why Onana was left out amid reports it was for disciplinary reasons.

  photo  Brazil's Casemiro celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Switzerland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
 
 
  photo  Brazil's Casemiro, top, scores his side's opening goal during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Switzerland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
 
 
  photo  Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez, left, and Brazil's Richarlison challenge for the ball during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Switzerland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
 
 
  photo  Switzerland's Fabian Rieder, left, and Switzerland's Remo Freuler challenge Brazil's Rodrygo during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Switzerland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
 
 
  photo  Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez, right, vies for the ball with Brazil's Raphinha during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Switzerland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
 
 
  photo  Brazil's Richarlison, centre, and Switzerland's Nico Elvedi challenge for the ball during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Switzerland at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
 
 
  photo  Switzerland's Breel Embolo, left, and Brazil's Eder Militao vie for the ball during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Switzerland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
 
 
  photo  Brazil's Eder Militao, left, and Switzerland's Ruben Vargas challenge for the ball during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Switzerland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
 
 

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