Brazil confirmed top spot and qualification from Group E at the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia courtesy of a comfortable 2-0 victory over Serbia this evening.
Goals either side of half time from Paulinho and Thiago Silva at the Spartak Stadium ensured that Tite’s charges marched into the last 16 with relative ease, while condemning Mladen Krstajic’s Serbian side to group-stage elimination.
The Selecao will now face Group F runners-up Mexico in the knockout stages in Samara next Monday.
Brazil flew out of the traps and a sharp counter-attack soon saw Philippe Coutinho winding up from the edge of the box, although his effort cannoned into Gabriel Jesus who found himself in an offside position.
Coutinho proved incisive from the off and he produced a telling through-ball for an offside Jesus, who shot straight at Vladimir Stojkovic, before seeing the rebound fluffed by Neymar.
Brazil were forced into a peculiar change after just 10 minutes when left-back Marcelo appeared to pull up inconspicuously, leaving Filipe Luis to enter the fray.
The break seemed the most likely avenue for a Brazilian opener and Jesus was set on his way again past the last man, before being thwarted by a vital outstretched leg from Nikola Milenkovic when the striker sought to cut back on his right.
Serbia were not totally invisible and offered a threat at times going forward, Dusan Tadic doing well to turn Silva in the area, only to see Aleksandar Mitrovic send an awkward overhead kick over the bar.
Coutinho shone as the standout performer in the opening half and he was the architect when the Selecao eventually took the lead in the 36th minute.
The Barcelona playmaker saw a gap opening in the Serbian defence and he reacted to send a pinpoint ball through the middle for the run of Paulinho, who chipped a finish over the head of an onrushing Stojkovic to make it 1-0.
Neymar’s initial impact was one of colourful but unnecessary touches, although he almost sent the Brazilian support into ecstasy prior to the interval when he shaped up on the edge of the box, only to see his speculative, curling effort whistle just over the bar.
Coutinho continued to be a menace after the break and he released Neymar into acres of space on the counter, only for the Paris Saint-Germain forward to be denied by the frame of Stojkovic.
The one-goal advantage was always going to be troublesome and Serbia should have drawn level with just under 30 minutes to play, Mitrovic reacted quickest to an Alisson Becker fumble before heading straight at the frame of Silva in front of goal.
The Newcastle United forward endeavoured to cause issues and he passed up another standout chance when a ball in from Antonio Rukavina saw Fagner isolated at the back post, leaving Mitrovic to somehow send his header into the grateful arms of Alisson.
The frontman was made to pay for his profligacy as Brazil notched a second to help seal all three points in the 68th minute, Neymar crossing from a corner to allow Silva to beat off the challenge of Nemanja Matic and bullet a powerful header past Stojkovic.
Neymar might have grabbed his second goal of the tournament in the closing stages of the contest, but he was thwarted by the frame of Stojkovic as the Selecao ultimately settled for a comfortable, group-clinching victory without ever really having to overstretch themselves.
SERBIA (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic; Rukavina, Milenkovic, Veljkovic, Kolarov; Matic, Milinkovic-Savic; Tadic, Ljajic (Zivkovic 75′), Kostic (Radonjic 82′); Mitrovic (Jovic 89′)
BRAZIL (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Fagner, T. Silva, Miranda, Marcelo (Filipe Luis 10′); Casemiro, Paulinho (Fernandinho 66′); Neymar, Coutinho (Augusto 80′), Willian; Jesus