Brazil's Neymar celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the group A World Cup soccer match between Cameroon and Brazil at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Two goals from Neymar give Brazil 4-1 win over Cameroon, first in Group A

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With his third and fourth goals of the 2014 World Cup, Brazilian star Neymar has put his team into the knockout round. Scoring in the 17th and 34th minutes, the 22-year-old helped send his team into halftime with a one-goal lead over Cameron, with second half goals from Fred and Fernandinho delivering a 4-1 win for the hosts in their nation’s capital.

Neymar opened the scoring with a right-footed finish from the middle of the Cameroon penalty area, an opener that was pulled back by a Joel Matip in the 26th minute. Just past the half-hour mark, a shot from the top of the area into the left of goal completed Neymar’s brace, with a close-range finish just after halftime giving Fred his first World Cup goal. With a toe-poke from the left of the area in the 84th minute, Fernandinho closed the scoring, helping the Seleçao hold off Mexico in Group A.

With the win, Brazil moves on to the knockout round, where they will face Chile on Saturday in Belo Horizonte. Cameroon leaves Brazil 2014 without a point, having lost seven straight matches at World Cups.

[ MORE: Mexico surge past Croatia | Dutch down Chile | Spain conquers Socceroos ]
[ RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly ]

Early Brazil attacks down the team’s right flank provided hints the favorites would control the match, but as Cameroon came into the game, the opening moments found a surprising equilibrium.

That changed in the 17th minute when Luiz Gustavo forced a turnover at the edge of Brazil’s attacking third. Moving down the left side, the Seleçao midfielder played a ball toward the penalty spot. There, Neymar had cut across central defender Joel Matip to create room to finish inside Charles Itanjde’s left post.

Cameroon responded quickly when the second ball in from a 26th minute corner found Matip in front of goal. His one-timed finish of Nyom’s cross gave Júlio César no chance to prevent the shock equalizer.

Neymar, however, made sure Brazil’s response was just as swift. Given room to cut onto his right foot at the top of Cameroon’s penalty area, the Barcelona star pulled his shot into the left of goal, giving Brazil the 2-1 lead they’d take into halftime.

Just after intermission, a chipped cross from Neymar was cleared out of the Cameroon area, where midfielder Fernandinho was able to maintain Brazil’s possession. After the ball went wide to David Luiz, the Brazilian defender found Fred in front of goal, where the striker headed home his team’s third goal.

Six minutes from time, just as Mexico’s scoreline against Croatia was threatening to vault El Tri first in Group A, Brazil found added insurance. Running onto an Oscar pass in the left of Cameroon’s penalty area, Fernandinho finished far post to give Brazil their fourth goal, ensuring the hosts would finish first in their group.

The win guaranteed Brazil, who came into the day tied at the top of their group, would avoid the Netherlands to open the next round. Unfortunately, the alternative doesn’t provide much relief. Chile, seen by many as one of the tournament’s dark horses, await the World Cup favorites.

Lineups

Cameroon: Itanjde; Mbia, N’koulou, Nyom, Bedimo; Matip, Enoh, N’Guémo; Moukandjo (Salli 58′), Aboubakar (Webó 72′), Choupo-Moting

Goals: Matip 26′

Brazil: César; Alves, Silva, Luiz, Marcelo; Gustavo, Paulinho (Fernandinho 46′); Oscar, Neymar (Willian 71′), Hulk (Ramires 63′); Fred

Goals: Neymar 17′, 34′, Fred 49′, Fernandinho 84′

Andy King: If Leicester can win PL, Wales can win EURO 2016

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 07:  Andy King of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at The King Power Stadium on May 7, 2016 in Leicester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Andy King is still riding high from Leicester City’s Premier League title, and that confidence is carrying over into EURO 2016.

The Foxes midfielder and Welsh international sees no reason why Wales can’t win the tournament, despite having 80-1 odds to do so.

[ MORE: England’s EURO squad ]

Of course, Leicester began the Premier League season as 5,000-1 underdogs to lift the trophy.

We’ve got to win six or seven games compared to 38.

80-1 against 5000-1. You know which one you would rather back. We are a talented group and I believe we have the best player in the tournament.

Gareth [Bale] is probably the best player in the tournament in many people’s opinion, so why can’t we go there and do something? We are confident we can do that.

If Wales were to win the EURO this summer, the story truly would rival that of Leicester. The Dragons have never played in a European Championship before, and the nation’s only other appearance at a major tournament came back at the 1958 World Cup.

[ MORE: Payet, Milner make top-five of UEFA’s “player barometer” ]

You may not agree that Gareth Bale is the best player in the tournament, but he is surely near the top of the list. Bale’s play will likely determine how far Wales can go, drawn into Group B alongside England, Slovakia, and Russia.

Report: West Ham offer $22 million for AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca

MILAN, ITALY - MARCH 20:  Carlos Bacca of AC Milan celebrates his goal during the Serie A match between AC Milan and SS Lazio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on March 20, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
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West Ham’s search for an elite striker continues, with their newest target AC Milan’s Carlos Bacca.

According to Sky Sports, the Hammers have bid $22 million for the striker, who led Milan with 18 goals in Serie A play last season.

However, after paying $34 million to sign the striker last summer, it is believed Milan would be unwilling to sell their top scorer for less than $30 million.

MORE: All 2015-16 PL season reviews ]

At 29-years-old, Bacca has been one of Europe’s most consistent forwards over the past few seasons. After bagging 49 goals in 108 appearances for Sevilla, he earned a move to Milan last July, finishing third in Serie A scoring in his first year with the club.

West Ham’s chairman David Gold has been open about his desire to sign a world-class striker, with Lyon confirming that they rejected a $45 million bid from the Hammers for Alexandre Lacazette.

VIDEO: Neymar takes batting practice before New York Mets game

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31:  Brazilian soccer player  Neymar Jr stands in the New York Mets dugout before the game against the Chicago White Sox at Citi Field on May 31, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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We all know Neymar’s skills with a soccer ball, but what about with a baseball bat?

Spoiler alert: He’s better with his feet.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Copa coverage ]

The Barcelona and Brazil superstar was in New York on Tuesday night and hit up the batting cages at Citi Field before the Mets game against the Chicago White Sox.

Taking swings lefty, Neymar made some contact but didn’t necessarily have the smoothest stroke…

He then hit the field and got back to his roots, showing off some footskills while juggling a baseball.

I’m not too sure if Neymar is a baseball fan, but this may make him the Mets’ newest, most famous supporter (sorry Jerry Seinfeld).

Neymar is in the United States as he has some time off after the long Barcelona season. He is not playing in the Copa America with Brazil, but will instead play in the Olympics in August.

Messi’s tax fraud case begins with player avoiding court

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 17:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on  during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Valencia CF at Camp Nou on April 17, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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MADRID (AP) Lionel Messi’s tax trial began Tuesday with the player deciding not to appear in court for early proceedings.

Messi is facing a prison sentence of nearly two years on charges he failed to properly pay taxes for part of his earnings from Barcelona from 2007-09.

[ FOLLOW: All of PSTS’s Copa coverage ]

The Argentina playmaker is not obligated to appear in the Barcelona court until Thursday, when he is scheduled to testify before a judge. Sentencing is not expected until next week.

Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, have been charged with three counts of tax fraud for allegedly defrauding Spain’s tax office of 4.1 million euros ($4.5 million).

Because of the trial, Messi is missing Argentina’s preparation for the Copa America Centenario, which begins Saturday in the United States. He is expected to fly straight to the U.S. to join his teammates after the trial ends. Argentina debuts in the tournament on Monday against defending champion Chile.

Even if found guilty, it is highly unlikely that Messi or his father will face any jail time. They have denied wrongdoing.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | BC | D ]

“Everything is good. Everybody is calm,” said Messi’s lawyer, Enrique Bacigalupo, as he arrived at the Barcelona court on Tuesday.

The trial is centered on alleged unlawful activities of Messi’s father, but authorities said the player knew enough to also be named in the case. Officials said that although Messi was mostly unfamiliar with tax issues, there was sufficient evidence to believe he could have known and consented to the creation of a fictitious corporate structure to avoid paying taxes on income from his image rights.

In addition to each facing a prison sentence of 22 months and 15 days, Messi and his father could also be fined in the amount defrauded and ordered to pay all legal proceedings and the loss of any possible tax benefits for a year and a half.

Messi is just the latest high-profile player to have to deal with Spain’s tough tax system. Neymar, Javier Mascherano, Adriano and Xabi Alonso also were targeted by authorities recently.

[ MORE: Marcelo giving away UCL winners’ medal…on Facebook ]

Mascherano, Messi’s teammate with Argentina and Barcelona, earlier this year was handed a suspended one-year prison sentence for not paying nearly 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) in taxes for 2011 and 2012. Brazil striker Neymar recently had to testify before a judge because of alleged irregularities involving his transfer to Barcelona. He and the club were accused of withholding the real amount of the transfer fee, in part to avoid paying the full amount of taxes.

Messi was also being investigated by Spanish tax authorities after his name was among those released in the probe of international offshore accounts, known as the Panama Papers, although he was not charged for those allegations.