Brazil coach Tite also played a big role in the victory over Mexico, deciding to replace Philippe Coutinho with Firmino.
However, Brazil did manage to double their score late on when Neymar broke the offside trap, before squaring for Firmino to tap home from two yards out. Neymar scored the victor and Roberto Firmino put it away near the buzzer, ending a tournament for El Tri that started perfectly and ended horribly.
"In Neymar's defence he has been fouled more than any other player at this World Cup and he is regularly the target of rough treatment".
Neymar continued to be in the thick of action as he appeared to have his ankle trod on by Miguel Layun, who was trying to retrieve the ball and was fortunate to escape a red card.
Both teams slogged through a scoreless first half in which Mexico did not put a shot on goal and Brazil tested Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa three times. The 2-0 loss Monday was perhaps not quite so painful as some of the previous fourth-game defeats, but the knowledge that Brazil was simply better will only mitigate the hurt to some extent.
The only blemish for the five-time champions was the second-half booking for Casemiro, which rules him out of the quarter-final clash against either Belgium or Japan. Willian flashes the ball across the goal and Neymar is there to slide it in from close range.
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For around four minutes, the game was held up and when it began again, Neymar was up and running in moments without ill-effect.
"We know we have players that can decide the game".
"This is a game of men that is played with intensity and not with so much clowning".
"You have to remember the clubs [the Brazil players] play in; going toe-to-toe speaks well of Mexican football".
But El Tri's error was losing that final group-stage game 3-0 against Sweden.
The victor of this match will instantly become one of the favorites to win the World Cup with Germany, Argentina, Portugal and Spain having already been eliminated. "We were maybe not very efficient and we didn't have that extra quality that they had coming to our goal".
But after dominating the first 20 minutes of an entertaining opening period, Brazil came back into the match, bossing the final stages of the half.