Brazil striker Richarlison scored twice including a spectacular swivelling volley to get his nation’s quest for a sixth World Cup title off to a perfect start in a 2-0 win over Serbia to top Group G.
Spearheading an intimidating four-pronged attack, Richarlison steered home a rebound in the 62nd minute after Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic had saved an angled shot from Vinicius Jr. following marauding work from Neymar. Richarlison’s second was equal to some of the great goals of Brazil’s rich history.
After flicking up a pass, he swung his body round to connect with his right foot and hit an unstoppable shot to send the Lusail Stadium crowd wild, showing everyone why he gets the nod as his country’s starting striker. The forward has now scored nine goals for Brazil this year, and ensured the tournament favourites got their Qatar campaign off to the perfect start.
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Little more than a month ago, Richarlison limped away from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on crutches and in tears.
Spurs had just beaten his former club, Everton, but it had not been a happy reunion for the summer signing, who hobbled off the field early, struggling with a calf problem and fearing for his World Cup dream.
Here at Lusail Stadium it came to life as the forward marked his tournament debut with both goals in a 2-0 win over Serbia, the first of them scrappy, the second sensational, an early goal of the tournament contender.
Even Tottenham boss Antonio Conte said he had gone home deflated that night in October, full of sympathy and concern for his young player, having missed out on Euro ’96 with Italy through injury himself.
Read Malik Ouzia’s full analysis here
Serbia never in it…
Solid defensively in the first-half, but Serbia didn’t offer any sort of attacking threat all match.
No shots on target, the fourth side to do that at the tournament so far. Only five in total, which is worse than 28 sides managed in the first round of matches.
Job done… again
Brazil have not lost a group-stage match at the World Cup since 1998, when they were beaten by Norway.
Since then’s, it’s now 13 wins from 16 matches in the opening stages… not too shabby.
Be warned Switzerland and Cameroon.
Opening matches done!
So every team has now played once at the World Cup. Four teams stand out so far – England, France, Spain and Brazil.
Questions over the opposition for the first three of those teams, for all they were ruthless in front of goal.
Brazil still not particularly close to their best tonight you feel, but when they started to heat up it looked so good.
FT: Brazil 2-0 Serbia
Brazil are up and running in Qatar!
A long way from their best in the opening 45 minutes, but they really clicked into gear after the break.
Richarlison with the two goals, the second a stunning volley. Worthy favourites? Looks like it.
90+6 mins: Not much pace to the match now, Brazil have eased up a bit and Serbia aren’t exactly in a rush themselves.
Martinelli is the man still trying to inject pace into proceedings, he’s played a couple of decent balls into the box but nobody there to get on the end of them.
90+3 mins: Danilo can barely move, he’s got a real problem but there are no more subs to make. He’s just going to hobble around for the final few minutes.
Brazil want to avoid passing to him, he’s jumping around. Surely worth going off and playing with ten men?
90 mins: Seven minutes added on!
Serbia are not particularly thrilled to hear that, you’d imagine. Antony, Jesus, Martinelli, Rodrygo… they all want to make an impression.