Richarlison’s second-half goals earned World Cup favorites Brazil a 2-0 win over Serbia in their Group G opener in Lusail.
The European side kept the No. 1 side in check for an hour but the Tottenham striker’s close-range shot after Vinicius Junior’s shot was pushed onto the path by goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic finally gave Brazil a fighting lead.
Richarlison then lit up the Lusail stadium in Qatar with a stunning strike that went past the Serbian player to extend the lead. His performance led to him being selected as the Brazilian forward ahead of Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus.
Raphinha had earlier squandered chances on either side of the half, shooting hard on both occasions, while Alex Sandro’s effort from distance was headed wide as Tite’s side pushed to break down a resilient Serbia team.
Brazil were strong in defense as they extended their unbeaten run in the opening World Cup to 20 games. Although there will be a bigger test as the five-time champions look to end their 20-year wait to win the tournament, it was a commanding start.
How Brazil destroyed Serbia
For an hour, Serbia struggled. In the end, it was difficult to remember that, Brazil was so dominant, so much in defeating their opponents. As soon as Serbia had to go in search of a goal, chances were there for them to capitalize on.
Vinicius looked very dangerous, creating all kinds of problems. Neymar had his moments, although his injury late in the game is a major concern. Such is the depth of attacking talent in this group, however, that hope must be behind this.
Jesus, Antony, Rodrygo and Gabriel Martinelli all came on as Brazil began to enjoy themselves. Given that they looked strong at the other end of the game with Casemiro defending, this shows why many see them as the team to beat in Qatar.
Neymar scheduled for MRI after neck injury
“Neymar has injured his right knee, direct trauma,” Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said at the post-match press conference. “Due to the fear of the Serbian player’s knee, we immediately started to heal the bench.
“He continued treatment with physio. We need 24 to 48 hours to understand better through MRI. Tomorrow we will have a new study. Now we have to wait, we can’t say immediately about his evolution. We have to wait.”
Injuries overshadow success
This World Cup was supposed to be Neymar’s redemption song after failing to double in the tournament. This should be his last chance and he came into the tournament with interest from Paris Saint-Germain. Now an injury could set back his goals.
The sight of him slumped on the bench after being substituted and the images coming out of his swollen ankle are terrifying. Even with 11 days to go before the Brazilian team meets in the round of 16, there is no time for Neymar to recover and show his best form.
Brazil have other attacking options, although many are more suited to a bigger role than the 10-man slot that Neymar created himself. But this is as personal as Tite’s later actions. The job description race is in danger of slipping away from him.
Sportsman – Richarlison
Richarlison has made no secret of his desire to represent his country, he is often touched by this, and this was indeed the night he had been dreaming of all his life. Here he was, leading the line in Brazil and leading the way.
There is talent around him in this team, players who will create opportunities. He had Vinicius on his left and Raphinha on his right, with Neymar supporting him. Richarlison’s job was to stay in the middle and take the opportunities when they came – and that’s what he did.
The first one was the last one Tite expected from him, getting in front of the defender. But the second was a violent strike. It shows his confidence. In this situation, and with this support, Richarlison may have better days ahead.
Brilliant Brazil – Opta Statistics
- Brazil are unbeaten in their opening matches in their last 20 World Cup matches, winning 17 and drawing three.
- Brazil’s Neymar was fouled six times in the match, four fouls more than any other player at the 2022 World Cup so far.
- Serbia is one of the four teams that have not shot on target at the 2022 World Cup so far.
- Richarlison has scored nine goals in his last seven games for Brazil in all competitions, becoming the eighth Brazilian to score twice in a World Cup game and the first since Neymar in 2014.
- Since joining the club in September 2018, Richarlison has scored more goals in all competitions for Brazil than any other player (19).
- Before being defeated in the final 15 minutes, Vinicius Junior was involved in 50 percent of Brazil’s 16 shots in the game with four shots and four chances.
Stojkovic: Brazil is the top team
“I think we were equal in the first 45 minutes,” said Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic. “They weren’t very dominant at the time. In the second half, we collapsed physically and we weren’t a team anymore. Brazil knew how to take advantage of that. They punished us.
“We came here with a lot of problems in Qatar, we have a lot of injuries in the season that did not reach the important players of our team. It is the way it is, we have to face it. Defeat is not 100 per. cent of your players, and it is obvious, you see that .
“Brazil is a top team, there’s no doubt. But again, we showed in the first half that we can play this team. We don’t have it [Aleksandar] Mitrovic or [Filip] Kostic at 100 percent. It would be a completely different story if they were. They’re not ready, that’s how it is.
What else happened at the World Cup on Thursday?
In another match in Group G, Switzerland started the day with a 1-0 win over Cameroon thanks to a goal by Breel Embolo – a Cameroonian born player. After that, we had a goalless draw between Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.
Portugal’s 3-2 win over Ghana was a highlight when Cristiano Ronaldo scored a second goal that ensured the first of five goals later. The former Manchester United player has now become the first man to score in five World Cups.