(Reuters) - Brazil’s Willian and Gabriel Jesus were given special praise by coach Tite and assistant Sylvinho after the 2-0 victory over Mexico secured a quarter-final place.
Neither player scored but Willian produced his best performance of the tournament.
“Willian has been delivering beautiful work,” Sylvinho said. “Willian has some work tactically to get through because he has a lot to do for us but in the second half, tactically, he was able to deliver.”
Tite said Willian was given more freedom to roam in the second half and it paid off as the Chelsea player constantly stretched the Mexican defense from wide positions.
Jesus, meanwhile, has failed to score in any of Brazil’s games but the assistant said the 21-year old was still an integral part of a team that is getting better with each game and now moves into a quarter-final game with either Belgium or Japan.
“Gabriel is like a tractor, he works very hard,” Sylvinho said. “He played his way up through the ranks thanks to his wing play. How we use him is very important in a tournament like this, when we have very little time to recover between games.”
Tite also had words for Neymar, the man of the match who scored the first goal and created the second in the 88th minute for Roberto Firmino to finish.
The Paris St Germain forward was a constant threat to the Mexicans but ultimately – and not for the first time – ended up making some headlines for the wrong reasons.
Miguel Layun appeared to push his toe down onto Neymar’s ankle, and while it was difficult to determine how hard the pressure was, Neymar writhed around for several minutes.
Mexican coach Juan Carlos Osorio fumed at what he called “too many faking fouls,” but, when pressed, Tite said the words were said in the heat of the moment.
“I am not going to respond to Osorio, I saw what happened,” Tite told reporters. “I was right beside it and I saw it again on the television. I don’t need to say anything, you just need to watch it.”
Reporting by Andrew Downie, editing by Neil Robinson