If you believe in curses, or are Juan Carlos Osorio, you'll want to look away. Mexico are out of the World Cup once again in the Round of 16. This time their tormentors in the heliocentric tops of Brazil. Neymar and Roberto Firmino inflicted the damage with a goal each in the second half. And for the seventh tournament in a row, El Tri could see the Promise Land that is the quarterfinals on the horizon, but could not enter.
Osorio set out his side with clear intentions following the selection of Rafa Marquez in the starting 11. From the opening whistle, Mexico would clog the middle of the pitch and hope to counter through the trio of Carlos Vela, Hirving Lozano, and Chicharito up top.
Half of the plan came to fruition. Brazil were forced out wide for much of the first 45 minutes. But Mexico's counterattack rarely threatened the Brazil goal. The first half finished 0-0, but with Brazil clearly the more comfortable side.
As the second 45 minutes started much like the first, Mexico goalkeeper Memo Ochoa kept his side in the match as wave after wave of Brazilian attacks crashed against the El Tri goal. The goalkeeper finished the match with eight saves and was really the only standout performer for El Tri on the day.
NEYMAR PUTS BRAZIL AHEAD!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 2, 2018
The Brazilian taps home a Willian cross to make it 1-0 early in the second half. pic.twitter.com/p7aDi34UhP
The pressure from Neymar and co. would prove just too much in 51st minute. Luring multiple defenders across the top of the Mexico box, the Brazilian No. 10 laid off for teammate Willian before continuing his run to the back post. With Mexico scurrying to reset their defensive position, Willian's driven cross to the far post was met by the outstretched slide of Neymar, as the ball was redirected into an open net.
Down a goal, Mexico mounted its best resistance of the match. El Tri held possession for longer periods and found outlets in Vela and Lozano beyond Brazil's press.
Vela forced Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson to palm a dipping shot over the bar in the 61st minute. It was Mexico's only shot on target the entire match, while Brazil managed 10 on frame.
FIRMINO MAKES IT 2-0!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 2, 2018
Neymar's shot gets deflected into Firmino's path and the Liverpool man taps it home to double Brazil's lead. pic.twitter.com/myy7bXRehU
Neymar would finally shut the door on Mexico in the 88th minute. Running at the heart of the defense, he forced Ochoa into a reflexive save. However, the goalkeeper could only redirect the ball into the onrushing path of Firmino for another tap in for Brazil.
Down 2-0, the six minutes of stoppage time were not enough for Mexico. They leave Russia having defeated the reigning World Cup champion Germany and advancing to their seventh knockout stage in a row. But whether it was just the strength of Brazil or the "curse of the fifth game" taking hold once more, Mexico are headed home before the quarterfinals once more.