Fernandinho scores on finals debut as hosts clinch top spot
- 23 June 2014 22:53
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
Brazil will face Chile in the second round of the FIFA World Cup after a convincing 4-1 win over Cameroon in Brasilia.
Fernandinho became the first City player to score at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, striking on his finals debut after coming on as a second half substitute.
Neymar scored twice in the first-half, either side of a Joel Matip equaliser, Fred added a third goal at the start of the second half, before Fernandinho netted a sublime solo goal to round off the scoring.
The Londrina-born 28-year old has had to be patient for his first minutes at the tournament but he grasped this opportunity with both hands, providing the previously missing drive from midfield to steer Brazil into the round of 16.
He had a hand in the third goal, was a constant outlet for his teammates, providing the link between defence and attack with a number of positive, forward passes into the forward line and broke up a number of Cameroon attacks at their source with intelligent interceptions and well-timed tackles.
He capped a remarkable 45 minute showing with the final goal after 84 minutes and surely secured a starting berth for Saturday’s Round of 16 meeting with their fellow South Americans.
“Big Phil” made just one change from the team that started the draw with Mexico last time out, bringing Hulk back into the line-up in place of Ramires.
They faced a Cameroon side with nothing to play for, following defeats to Croatia and Cameroon, knowing that a draw would be enough to see them through.
However, results in this and the night’s other game between Croatia and Mexico would determine whether the five-time champions would take on Group B winners, the Netherlands or runners-up, Chile.
The hosts were taking part in their 100th World Cup match and they eased any lingering nerves in a hyped-up, expectant Estádio Nacional de Brasilia in the 17th minute when the crowd witnessed exactly what they had turned up to see.
Luiz Gustavo won the ball in midfield, charged down the left flank and delivered a perfect cross for Neymar and Brazil’s talisman opened up his right foot to divert the ball into the far corner, leaving Charles Itandje with no chance.
Brazil were only ahead for eight minutes as Joel Matip silenced the stadium when he escaped the attentions of Marcelo and David Luiz before finishing from close range to make it 1-1 with 25 minutes on the clock.
With the half-time break rapidly approaching, the hosts’ golden boy struck again, this time carrying the ball in from the left flank and trashing it past the wrong-footed Cameroonian keeper.
"Despite the narrow half-time lead, there was a sense that the Brazil midfield could be doing more to dictate the tempo of the game and perhaps that’s why Scolari introduced Fernandinho for the second half."
...Brazil v Cameroon: Match report...
There had been a widespread clamour for the City midfielder to come into the side and when he did finally get his chance to shine; his impact from the bench could hardly have been more immediate.
His first touch in a World Cup finals was nearly an assist for Fred but the Seleção no.9 got the ball caught under his feet and the chance was gone but Cameroon’s reprieve was short-lived.
Fernandinho flicked the ball over a defender’s head to find Marcelo on the left and the Real Madrid full-back’s cross fell invitingly into the path of Fred for his first goal of the tournament.
The City midfielder wasn’t finished there and he saved his most decisive contribution to last – the fourth goal to tie up top spot.
He exchanged passes with Oscar and Fred, before running clear and toe-poking the ball into the far corner beyond Itandje's out-stretched hand.
The joy writ large all over Fernandinho's face as he galloped off to celebrate told you just how much it had meant.
To celebrate, we’ll be kicking off an exclusive five-part Fernandinho documentary "A Dream in my Heart" on Tuesday morning here on mcfc.co.uk.
Elsewhere in Group A, Mexico set up a meeting with the Netherlands, thanks to a 3-1 win over Croatia.