From the first chords of the national anthem to about the 15 minute mark of the first half, Brazil dazzled. It was scintillating, engrossing, awe-inspiring entertainment, punctuated by a goal from - who else - Neymar. In what is becoming his specialty at the Confederations Cup, Brazil's #10 scored early again - although this time he waited all the way until the ninth minute.
Neymar switched to the iconic shirt before the tournament, and so far he's living up to the pressure and the aura of it all. The young man who used to wear the #10 before, our very own Oscar, was not at his best today. Substituted after an hour and playing slightly deeper than normal - whether by choice or as a reaction to Mexico's tactics - he lacked influence in the final third. He did put in a good shift defensively, often ending up in the right back spot as it tends to happen whenever a certain Dani Alves decides to be Dani Alves.
In direct contrast to Oscar, Chelsea's other Brazilian present today was simply excellent. Surely, even the staunchest David Luiz critics would appreciate his dominance in the air, his anticipation for the perfect interception, and his willingness to do whatever is needed to win the ball. The bloody (broken?) nose that came from a clash of heads with
a rake Thiago Silva only added to the spectacle.
While the rest of the match did not quite live up the promise of the first 15 minutes, we were still entertained. In the 93rd minute, Neymar closed the books by making fools out of two Mexican defenders and sliding a pass across the box to Jo who made no mistake for his second goal of the tournament. "Bookends of brilliance" is what Bob Ley called it and I couldn't have said it any better.
Job done by Brazil as they just about seal their spot in the Confederations Cup semifinals with a match to still play (unless Japan upset Italy later today), while Mexico head in the opposite direction.