Brazil scored once in each half through a Paulinho flick and a header from Thiago Silva to book their place in the round of 16 and a tie against Mexico. In the other match, Costa Rica held Switzerland to a 2-2 draw, but the Swiss went through and will face Sweden in the second round.
It was a tense affair for Tite and his favourites as Serbia fought tooth and nail. Brazil’s strategy was almost disrupted as early as the 10th minute when Marcelo went off injured. Filipe Luis came on as Brazil steadied their play. Coutinho had the first shot of the match on 25 minutes.
When the goal came on 36 minutes, it was through Paulinho who got on a superb lofted pass from Coutinho. It was a beautiful 30-yard pass that split open the Serbia defence.
The second half followed the same template, with Brazil hogging the ball but the Serbs looking for set-piece situations to get under the Brazilian skins. Neymar had a great chance in the 57th minute but Vladimir Stojkovic parried for a corner. Miranda almost scored an own goal but Thiago Silva settled the Brazilian nerves when he scored a header off a Neymar corner in the 68th minute.
In the second match, Costa Rica scored two equalisers – the second coming in the 90th minute by Bryan Ruiz.