Brazil kicked off their World Cup journey with a hard-fought 2-0 win against a resilient Serbia.
Coming into both the match and the tournament as favorites, Brazil failed to really get going in the first half, with it taking over 20 minutes for Brazil to register a shot on target. Serbia, who never lost a game in qualifying, made it clear that they weren’t going to make it easy for Brazil.
Dragan Stojkovic’s side stood firm defensively and looked to get forward when they could. Brazil countered on a few occasions but struggled to find the right final ball.
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Brazil were much better in the second half however and could have been 1-0 up within 40 seconds, Raphinha’s effort was smartly saved by Milinkovic-Savic at point-blank range.
Tite’s side continued to pour forward with more intent and attacking purpose. On the hour mark, Alex Sandro struck the post from a distance with a brilliant effort, but it didn’t take long for Brazil to find the breakthrough.
Just a couple of minutes later Brazil got their goal. Neymar weaved his way into the box, the ball fell to Vinicius Junior who saw his effort pushed out by Milinkovic-Savic and Richarlison was on hand to tap home. A great goal that required the instinct of a striker.
Serbia responded really well to go 1-0 down, pouring forward but all without creating many clear cut opportunities.
Brazil wrapped up all three points ten minutes later when Richarlison scored what was the best goal of the tournament so far, swiveling in the box before smashing a scissor kick into the back of the net to put Brazil in total control.
Fred nearly made it 3-0 to Brazil, smashing the crossbar with a fantastic effort from distance but ultimately the game ended 2-0.
A very impressive second half showing from Brazil who got their campaign off to the best possible start.
Richarlison once again repaid the faith shown in him by Tite. A lot of the talk before the match was regarding why Richarlison was selected ahead of this player or that player, but the fact of the matter is when Richarlison pulls on a Brazil shirt, he is usually fantastic. He may not have racked up the goalscoring numbers he’d have liked since signing for Tottenham Hotspur but he is undoubtedly Brazil’s number 9 and tonight he proved why. In his last seven matches for Brazil he has eight goals and one assist and until he starts dissapointing in the yellow and green of the Seleccao, Richarlison will keep playing and I imagine he will keep performing.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – RICHARLISON (BRAZIL)
Brazil’s number 9 worked hard, got himself into good areas and as a result, was able to win the match for his side with two goals. As always, he was full of energy, closing the Serbian defenders down and playing with an urgency that most of the rest of the Brazilian team lacked in the first half. His second goal is for sure the goal of the tournament so far and was an effort worthy of winning any match, in Richarlison’s case it helped put the game to bed after scoring the games opener some 11 minutes earlier. A great performance.
Image credit: Getty Images
BRAZIL: Alisson 7, Danilo 7, Marquinhos 7, Thiago Silva 8, Alex Sandro 7, Lucas Paqueta 7, Casemiro 8, Raphinha 7, Neymar 7, Vinicius Junior 8, Richarlison 9
SUBS: Fred 7, Martinelli 6, Antony 6, Rodrygo 6, Jesus 6
SERBIA: Milinkovic-Savic 8, Pavlovic 6, Veljkovic 6, Milenkovic 7, Mladenovic 6, Guedelj 6, Lukic 6, Zivkovic 6, Milinkovic-Savic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 6
SUBS: Ilic 6, Maksimovic 6, Radonjic 6, Lazovic 6, Vlahovic 6
46′ BIG CHANCE! Wow, that could have been a goal within the first 40 seconds of the second half, Raphinha’s shot was saved by Milinkovic-Savic at point-blank range. That is Brazil’s best chance so far.
60′ POST! Alex Sandro picks the ball up from over 20 yards out before lashing a vicious strike on goal and hits the post! So close to Brazil’s opener.
62′ GOAL – BRAZIL! Neymar jinks his way into the box, Vinicius Junior takes the ball and strikes on goal but Milinkovic-Savic can only palm it out to Richarlison who smashes it home first time!
73′ GOAL – BRAZIL WOW! WHAT A GOAL! Richarlison improvises magnificently to score a scissor kick. A wonderful goal. That is the goal of the tournament so far no question.
81′ CROSSBAR! Fred walks on to a lovely pass before stroking it first time from distance, his effort crashes off the crossbar. That would have been a lovely goal.
KEY STAT – Via @OptaJoao
Brazil in World Cup history:
Most games: 110 (alongside Germany)
Most wins: 74
Most goals: 231
Most participations: 22
Most titles: 5
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