Neymar believes critics of his Brazil theatrics are trying to 'undermine' him

Brazil striker Neymar said he thinks his critics are just trying to "undermine" him as the Selecao overcame Mexico 2-0 to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

Neymar, 26, is the most-fouled player in Russia so far with 23, including six in the Mexico match and an apparent attempt by Miguel Layun to step on his ankle that was not called and left the Paris Saint-Germain player writhing in pain afterward.

And asked about the motivation of his critics in the face of his theatrics following the numerous fouls, Neymar said: "Look, I think it's more of an attempt to undermine me than anything else.

"I don't care much for criticism, not even from the press because in a way this can influence athletes. The last two matches I didn't talk to the press because there's so many people talking.

"I just want to play and I help my teammates, I have to help my team and that's what I am here for, nothing else. I am here to win and I hope I can improve."

Brazil boss Tite also came to Neymar's defence after the match, calling his No. 10 "agile" and "fast" while asking journalists: "Is it wrong to feign, to provoke the players in the last third? It's not a sin.''

Neymar scored Brazil's opener in the win and set up Roberto Firmino for their second as he continues to work his way back to full-match fitness after suffering a broken bone in his right foot playing for PSG in February.

And the Brazil talisman said he felt as good as he has yet since returning from the injury ahead of Brazil's World Cup campaign.

"I knew that I was going to need some time to get back to my normal pace, but today I feel much better," said Neymar, who now has two goals at this year's World Cup.

"I am really happy for the match, not only individually but also for the whole team. I congratulate them on their efforts and we are improving all the time."

Neymar was not the only player who looked sharp for Brazil in the win that sent Mexico packing from the round of 16 at the World Cup for the seventh straight time. Chelsea playmaker Willian was all over the field, using his blistering pace and technical ability to open up space for his team to exploit.

Following the match, Brazil assistant Sylvinho called Willian's play "beautiful" and also had plaudits for front man Gabriel Jesus.

"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.

"Gabriel is like a tractor, he works very hard. 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."

Up next for Brazil is a tantalising quarterfinal match against Belgium, who rallied from two goals down to beat Japan 3-2 in their round-of-16 match.