Neymar lived up to the weighty expectations of the World Cup host nation Monday, setting Brazil on course to clinch its place in the knockout stage with two precision first-half goals in a 4-1 rout of Cameroon.
Fred and Fernandinho added second-half goals to ensure top spot in Group A for Brazil, which will face South American rival Chile in the second round.
More important than the widely expected victory, though, was a performance that restored the confidence of fans after two disappointing matches.
Cameroon, which hasn't advanced to the second round since becoming the first African nation to reach the World Cup quarterfinals in 1990, likely saw Eto'o playing in his final World Cup. The 33-year-old striker, in his fourth World Cup, is the team's all-time leading scorer.
Mexico beats Croatia 3-1, advances
Mexico surged into the World Cup's knockout stage for a sixth straight time Monday with a 3-1 win over Croatia.
Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado and Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez scored in a 10-minute span in the second half, dooming a talented Croatia side to elimination from the group stage.
The Croats had to win to advance and held the bulk of possession, but had trouble seriously threatening goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who kept out all efforts until an 87th-minute consolation goal from Ivan Perisic.
Mexico entered the game needing only a draw, and looked dangerous in attack, but was kept out until the three-goal burst. The result gave Mexico a second-place finish behind Brazil in Group A and set up a second-round meeting with Group B winner the Netherlands.
Dutch beat Chile 2-0 to top Group B
Two substitutes, two goals.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal can, it seems, do no wrong at this World Cup.
He sent on replacements Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay in the second half of the match against Chile on Monday and they scored both goals in a 2-0 win that confirmed the Dutch as Group B winners with a maximum nine points.
"We gave nothing away and fought like lions," stand-in captain Robben said. "Orange lions."
Robben said that after three wins out of three, the Dutch squad is hungry for more.
Spain salvages pride with 3-0 win over Australia
Defending champion Spain salvaged some World Cup pride on Monday with a convincing 3-0 victory over Australia in their last match at the tournament.
After losing their previous matches in Group B to the Netherlands and Chile, both teams took to Arena da Baixada in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba knowing they could not advance to the second round.