A relentless Brazil managed to break through a stubborn Serbian defense to win the opening game of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar 2-0. While the focus in the run-up to the game was mostly on star striker Neymar, Richarlison’s name was on everyone’s lips as the Tottenham Hotspur striker’s brace sealed victory for the Selecao.
The move started with the precocious Vinicius making the Serbian full-back, tagging him with a quick run back to the left. Once inside the box, he suddenly sent in a brilliant low cross from the outside of his right foot towards Richarlison. The Brazilian No.9 stopped the ball with his left foot, sending it flying straight into the air a few meters above his head. He positioned himself with his back to goal before whipping out a scissors jab typically seen in a game of foot volleyball. Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic dove in the direction of the shot, but it was never saved.
It was Richarlison’s second goal of the game after rebounding from a Vinicius shot to put Brazil ahead. The five-time record winners struggled at times in the first half but improved after the break at the Lusail Stadium and were rewarded when Tottenham Hotspur striker Richarlison struck the opener in the 62nd minute after a shot saved by Vinicius Junior.
Vinicius then set up Richarlison to score again in the 73rd minute with a stunning acrobatic display that is surely the World Cup goal to date. However, Neymar was then forced with a sprained ankle which the Brazil team doctor said would be examined in the next 48 hours.
Injuries have hampered Neymar at the tournament in the past and Brazil hope their World Cup is not over yet, although coach Tite struck a positive tone after the game. “You can be sure that Neymar will play at the World Cup,” said Tite. Thursday’s result continues Brazil’s excellent record in the World Cup group stage, having last lost to Norway in 1998.