A second-half brace from Richarlison, including a stunning scissor kick, gave tournament favorites Brazil a 2-0 victory over Serbia in their opening World Cup game at Lusail Stadium on Thursday. The record five-time winners struggled at times in the first half, but improved after the break and were rewarded when Tottenham Hotspur striker Richarlison followed to score the opener in the 62nd minute when a shot from Vinicius Junior was saved. Vinicius then set Richarlison to score again in the 73rd minute with a stunning acrobatic effort that is surely the goal of the World Cup so far.
The result is a continuation of Brazil’s excellent record in the World Cup group stage, which saw their last defeat in 1998 against Norway, when they had already secured a place in the next round.
Tite’s side are already top of Group G ahead of Switzerland, who previously defeated Cameroon 1-0 and are Brazil’s next opponent.
The score here was the same as when these teams met in the group stage in 2018, but Brazil are determined to do much better than they did four years ago when they lost to Belgium in the quarter-finals.
They have come to Qatar as the favorites for a sixth title, two decades after their last win.
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Other results in the opening round of matches in Qatar served as a warning, with their great rivals Argentina suffering a shock defeat to Saudi Arabia at the same stadium and Germany shocked by Japan.
However, Brazil would have known not to take Serbia lightly, given that the side ranked 21st in the FIFA rankings is one of Europe’s most improved teams, topping their qualifying group over Portugal.
Still, it would have been a huge shock for Brazil to lose on a ground where they plan to return for the final on December 18.
Tite sent in a very attacking side, with Neymar supporting Richarlison, while Raphinha and Vinicius occupied the wings and Lucas Paqueta added creativity in central midfield.
Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, needed just two goals from kick-off to equal Pelé’s record 77 for Brazil, but he will have to wait a bit longer to score them.
Serbia did their best to frustrate the Paris Saint-Germain superstar, who came close to scoring from an early corner that would have lifted the roof of the magnificent Lusail stadium, where the stands were filled with yellow and green.
Brazil’s best moments in the first half came when Thiago Silva’s defensive pass found Vinicius in the box, only for goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic to thwart the Real Madrid man, and when Raphinha played a one-two with Paqueta before his shot was cleared. scored. rescued.
Barcelona winger Raphinha was involved again within a minute of the restart as he chased Nemanja Gudelj out of possession, but was again denied by the goalkeeper.
However, Serbia’s resistance was broken just after the hour mark.
The caution had come when Alex Sandro deflected a shot with the left foot off an upright and two minutes later the goal was scored.
Neymar set up Vinicius for a shot that Milinkovic-Savic got a hand on but the ball broke to Richarlison who followed to score.
Serbia responded by using Dusan Vlahovic, the exciting Juventus striker who was struggling with an injury.
Still, Brazil had now found its feet and the second goal when it came was worthy of the biggest podium.
A cross from Vinicius with the outside of his right boot was checked by Richarlison, who then spun and jumped to score with an excessive acrobatic effort.
Brazil could have scored more, with Casemiro seeing a shot come back off the crossbar, but this was a promising start.
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