Richarlison’s spectacular golazo sends Brazil past Serbia at World Cup
Richarlison scored two goals, the second with a spectacular acrobatic kick, to help Brazil beat Serbia 2-0 Thursday at the World Cup.
Brazil had struggled to get past the Serbian defence until Richarlison scored from close range in the 62nd in a buildup that started with Neymar.
Vinicius Junior assisted on both goals.
Neymar, seeking his first major title with Brazil, stayed at 75 goals for the national team, two shy of Pele’s scoring record.
The Brazilian forward had ice taped to his ankle and was crying on the bench after being substituted in the 79th minute. Neymar injured his right ankle in the second half and was tackled hard a few times during the match — limping and grimacing before having to leave the field. He was in tears on the bench as doctors began treating him in the final minutes of the game at Lusail Stadium. He pulled his shirt over his head as doctors taped ice around his foot.
Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said Neymar sprained his ankle.
“We put ice on it while he was on the bench and then in physiotherapy,” Lasmar said. “There is no test scheduled for now but we will schedule it if needed. He will be under observation. We will know more tomorrow.”
Brazil coach Tite said he was “confident that Neymar will continue playing at the World Cup,” but Lasmar said it was too early to comment on the extent of the injury.
Tite started with an attack-minded squad that included four forwards — Neymar, Vinicius Junior, Raphinha and Richarlison. Attacking midfielder Lucas Paqueta played alongside Casemiro, the lone defensive midfielder.
Brazil’s best chance before Richarlison’s opening goal had been a low long-range shot by Alex Sandro that hit the post in the 60th. Neymar had his best opportunities with a free kick in the 50th and a shot from near the penalty spot in the 55th.
The 30-year-old Neymar arrived to his third World Cup as Brazil’s main attraction. He helped the “Selecúo” win the 2013 Confederations Cup and its first Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, but has yet to win a major title with the national team.
Brazil, trying to win its first World Cup in two decades, is unbeaten in its last 20 opening games, with 17 victories. It has finished first in its group in the last 10 World Cups.
Ronaldo leads Portugal over Ghana
Cristiano Ronaldo closed his eyes, took in a deep breath and then made World Cup history.
The Portugal striker became the first male player to score at five World Cups with his 65th-minute penalty in a 3-2 win over Ghana on Thursday.
Andre Ayew equalized for Ghana eight minutes later, but Joao Felix regained the lead for Portugal in the 78th and Rafael Leao added a third. Osman Bukari reduced Ghana’s deficit in the 89th.
The 37-year-old Ronaldo was looking to showcase his talents to potential new clubs after having his contract terminated at Manchester United this week. After wasting two good chances in the first half, he tumbled under a challenge by Ghana defender Mohammed Salisu to earn a penalty.
Wheeling away after the ball struck the back of the net, a smiling Ronaldo performed his usual leap and swivel in the air — the crowd roared his trademark “SI-UUU” as he did the pirouette — before getting mobbed by teammates.
He has now scored in every World Cup since his first in 2006 and has a record 118 international goals.
It was a wild finish to a slow-burner of a World Cup match that ended with Portugal defender Danilo clearing the ball away from near the line in the ninth minute of stoppage time. Ronaldo, who was sitting in the dugout after being substituted, put his hand on his head in relief.
Another scoring record adds to the luster of his resume. A penalty against Iran in 2006 started his tally of World Cup goals — it is now up to eight in 18 matches — and he lifted the ball beyond Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati with his latest spot kick after a long, theatrical buildup to the penalty.
Bruno Fernandes arguably played a more important role in Portugal’s win, setting up the team’s second and third goals with perfectly weighted through-balls.
Still, Portugal’s players almost threw it away after losing their composure in a chaotic final few minutes, featuring the comical scene of Bukari performing Ronaldo’s “SI-UUU” celebration after his goal.
In the other Group H match, South Korea and Uruguay drew 0-0.
Embolo’s goal lifts Switzerland over Cameroon
Breel Embolo’s goal lifted Switzerland to a 1-0 win over Cameroon at the World Cup on Thursday and he kept his promise not to celebrate scoring against the country where he was born.
The Swiss forward from Yaounde struck with a right-foot shot in the 48th minute, standing all alone eight metres out in the middle of the goalmouth to take Xherdan Shaqiri’s low pass.
Embolo then pursed his lips in a wry smile and held his arms out wide, before raising his hands in a gesture of apology as teammates rushed to him near the penalty spot.
He pointed toward Swiss fans behind the goal where he had scored then to Cameroon fans at the opposite corner of Al Janoub stadium.
Though an African-born player scored, teams from Africa are now scoreless through the four games they have played at this World Cup. All have played higher-ranked teams, and Morocco and Tunisia earned 0-0 draws, respectively against Croatia and Denmark.
Cameroon’s streak of losses at World Cup finals tournaments extended to eight games dating back to 2002.
Brazil and Serbia are also in Group G and they meet later Thursday.
South Korea-Uruguay ends nil-nil
Another favoured team has failed to impress in the early stages of the World Cup.
This time it was South Korea holding South American power Uruguay to a 0-0 draw on Thursday, a result that probably favours the Asian team.
The draw at Education City Stadium was yet another early World Cup match with a surprising result. Argentina and Germany both lost their opening games in major upsets. This one hinted at being another.
“I’m more than happy with the result,” Alonso said. “I’m sure that this group stage will be determined by the last match. We all know the second game is key, and so is the third one. But this will not affect whether we qualify of not.”
Uruguay will next face Portugal in Group H while South Korea plays Ghana, with both games on Monday. The top two teams in the group will advance to the round of 16.
South Korea, with forward Son Heung-min wearing a mask to protect a broken left eye socket, always looked the more likely to score against the more experienced Uruguayans. The South Koreans were quicker, pressing from the opening whistle.
Many South Korean fans wore Batman-like masks in solidarity with Son, who was injured on Nov. 2 in a Champions League match playing for English club Tottenham. He had a few early chances but seemed to tire in the second half.