Brazil’s win set up a last-16 meeting with Mexico in Samara on Monday, while it is Switzerland who will take on Sweden in St Petersburg the following day after drawing 2-2 with Costa Rica.
They got their opener in the 36th minutes, Paulinho stabbing over Vladimir Stojkovic off a magnificent pass from Philippe Coutinho.
It was Paulinho’s eighth goal since Tite took the helm in 2016 and brought his former Corinthians star back into the set-up, with only Neymar and Gabriel Jesus (10) scoring more for Brazil in the same timeframe.
The Barcelona midfielder was replaced by the more defensive Fernandinho in the 66th minute as Serbia went on the attack in a bid to save their World Cup campaign.
But Silva, the former captain who was shunned following Brazil’s failure to lift the World Cup on home soil four years ago, wrapped up the win and kept hopes of an unprecedented sixth title alive.
The wind was taken out of Serbia’s sails and Brazil confidently saw out the final stages, Stojkovic doing well to thwart Neymar in stoppage time as the Selecao avoided the humiliating group-stage exit that befell fellow heavyweights and defending champions Germany earlier in the day.