Sports

Stubborn Swiss fall to hero Casemiro

Casemiro’s late strike helped Brazil to defeat a solid Switzerland side 1-0 in Group G of the FIFA World Cup (FWC) as the Seleção became the first-ever side to go unbeaten in 17 consecutive World Cup group stage matches, securing a spot in the Round of 16 in the process.

As both Brazil and Switzerland won their opening Group G matches, the winner of this contest would seal an early advance to the FWC knockout stages. There was a level of respect between the two sides early on, Brazil perhaps wary of a side they failed to beat in their last two competitive meetings, including a 1-1 draw in the previous edition of the competition four years ago.

The South American outfit were first to crank up the pressure, and the confidence of a side that had scored 28 goals in their last eight matches, all of which they won, soon showed when Raphinha’s whipped cross from the right wing fell perfectly at Vinícius Júnior’s feet six yards out. However, the forward could only scuff his effort straight at Yann Sommer. Switzerland continued to hold firm as Brazil controlled possession and even looked threatening when Ruben Vargas found space in the area before Alisson was quick off his line to snub out any danger.

Brazil took control of the game once again after HT and Vinícius Júnior thought he’d opened the scoring in the 64th minute when he took the ball around the sliding Nico Elvedi and passed beyond Sommer, only for VAR to rule his strike out for offside in the build-up. Lacking the spark so often provided by the absent Neymar, Brazil needed a moment of brilliance to eventually stun the tiring Swiss defence as Rodrygo flicked the ball to Casemiro inside the box before the midfielder lashed an unstoppable half-volley into the top corner via a slight deflection off Manuel Akanji with seven minutes of the 90 remaining.

The late moment of quality gave Brazil a deserved three points as Tite’s side continue their quest to lift a sixth FWC trophy, and they can now relax going into their final match with Cameroon. It was heartbreak for Switzerland, though, and their hard defensive work was eventually undone. However, they remain in control of their destiny, and a point against Serbia will see them progress as long as Brazil don’t lose to the Indomitable Lions.

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