Neymar shot to the top of the World Cup scoring charts with a superb double in a 4-1 win for Brazil over Cameroon on Monday that sent the hosts through as Group A winners to face Chile in the last 16.
After grabbing a brace in Brazil’s 3-1 win against Croatia in their opening game at the finals, Neymar was again the star of the show at an electric national stadium.
The 22-year-old struck twice in the first half either side of Joel Matip’s goal for already eliminated Cameroon, Fred nodded home at the start of the second and substitute Fernandinho scored a late fourth.
The sparkling performance meant Brazil went some way to dispelling doubts about their title credentials following last week’s goalless draw with Mexico.
Mexico finished level on seven points with Brazil thanks to their 3-1 victory against Croatia and went through in second place due to an inferior goal difference. They will play Group A winners the Netherlands, who beat Chile 2-0.
Mexico took a 3-0 lead with late goals in Recife, rattling Brazilian nerves until Croatia scored and Fernandinho, who was introduced at halftime, made it 4-1 in Brasilia.
Brazil were ahead after 17 minutes when Luiz Gustavo won the ball on the left and his low cross was perfectly weighted for Neymar, in space in the centre of the penalty area, to deftly guide the ball into the far corner of the net.
Cameroon refused to capitulate and were level nine minutes later when Allan Nyom squared for Joel Matip to sidefoot into an empty net and momentarily silence the home fans.
Shouts of “Brazil! Brazil!” then rang out around the vast arena and the hosts were back in front in the 35th minute when Neymar ran at the defence and clipped a low shot past a wrongfooted Charles Itandje in the Cameroon goal.
Brazil made a similarly brisk start to the second period and David Luiz popped up on the left wing in the 49th to chip the ball to the far post for Fred to head home.
Neymar came off to a rapturous reception and was replaced by Willian in the 71st minute before Fernandinho clipped the ball into the corner after a well-worked move six minutes from time to complete an impressive win for the tournament favourites.