Not Neymar, but Richarlison is the hero of Brazil with a fabulous goal: Divine Canaries fooling around with Serbia
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Neymar is better off getting that sixth star off his pants. After an energy-consuming match, the Brazilians were only able to get rid of a very stiff Serbia halfway through the second half. Richarlison messed around for an hour, but then struck twice: first with an indoor ticker, then with a downright phenomenal retro.

Key moment: Neymar with the dribble, Vincius with the shot and Richarlison with the inside ticker in the rebound. After an hour of toil, the Tottenham striker broke the spell.

Man of the match: Richarlison, albeit without really delivering a strong game, but dragged Brazil through with two goals: a real striker’s goal and a piece of art.

We will also remember him: Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, Standard’s maligned reserve goalkeeper on a blue Monday. Midfielder Sergej’s brother frustrated the Brazilians for an hour with one save after another.

Serbia was serious. Pavlovic already showed that in minute six. He went hard on Neymar and immediately picked up a yellow card. The tone had been set. Serbia presented itself in block, but Brazil dominated. Only it seems to be a trend at this World Cup that that dominance cannot be converted into goals without a fight. Just ask the Germans and Canadians. Despite some splitting vertical passes from Casemiro, Silva and Paqueta, Brazil did not get crystal clear opportunities before the break. Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, once a reserve goalkeeper at Standard, anticipated well and cleared those balls before Neymar and co could print. He was able to neutralize the long shots that did reach his goal quite easily. Serbia completely closed the center, but had to sacrifice so many people and energy that it could not come to a really vicious counterattack itself.

From jammer to acrobat

That first real chance came right after the break when Milinkovic-Savic choked when defending, but then put it right again by preventing Raphinha from scoring from close range. Gudelj once again demonstratively showed that Serbia would do anything to take Neymar out of the match. With a big mow he knocked the Brazilian down on the edge of the sixteen. He just received his yellow card with a smile. Alex Sandro was the first to floor Milinkovic-Savic, but his delicious icicle found the post in his way. Postpone but no adjustment. Dribble Neymar, take over Vinicius with the shot and this time Milinkovic-Savic only gets one hand to it. Richarlison – until then rather a troublemaker instead of a striker – can no longer miss in the rebound and breaks the spell for the Divine Canaries. It must have given the man wings because not much later that same Richarlison signed Serbia’s death sentence with a lot of panache. Vinicius with the pass and Tottenham’s striker completes it wonderfully acrobatically. Without a doubt the goal of the tournament for now.

Then the floodgates opened for a while and it was women and children first with Serbia, but a third Brazilian goal did not come, although Casemiro still hit the bar. This is how Tite’s Seleçao takes a first important step. With Switzerland and Cameroon still on the menu, making it to the second round seems like a piece of cake.

BRAZIL: Alisson – Danilo, T. Silva, Marquinhos, Sandro – Casemiro, Paqueta (76′ Fred) – Raphinha (87′ Martinelli), Neymar (79′ Antony), Vinicius Jr (76′ Rodrygo) – Richarlison (79′ Jesus).

SERVICE: V. Milinkovic-Savic – Veljkovic, Milenkovic, Pavlovic – Zivkovic (57′ Radonjic), Lukic (66′ Vlahovic), Gudelj (57′ Ilic), S. Milinkovic-Savic, Mladenovic (66′ Lazovic) – Tadic – Mitrovic ( 83′ Maksimovic).

goals: 1-0 Richarlison (62′), 2-0 Richarlison (Vinicius Jr) (73′)

Yellow cards: Pavlovic (6′), Gudelj (49′), Lukic (64′)

Red cards: no

Spectators: 88.103

Referee: Alireza Faghani (Irn)

Photo: EPA-EFE

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