Brazil’s Richarlison scored the highlight goal in the World Cup victory
That’s what happened on Thursday night, when the nascent World Cup goal came crashing down at Lucille Stadium two days later. Where on Tuesday it was Saudi Arabia over Argentina, now it was Brazil with Serbia in the 73rd minute. It sealed Brazil’s opening 2-0 win. That comes from Richarlison, the 25-year-old who has been scoring plenty of late. It can make people gasp and maybe even scream involuntarily.
It created a stadium noise that carried faint sounds of surprise and sustained itself longer than most such sounds. It sent longtime Brazil manager Tite into a loving frenzy as he went into a group-hug of his staff, later saying, “Sometimes the feelings can’t be explained.” And it lends the postgame the kind of lingering buzz it can’t achieve from the non-alcoholic beer they serve here in these stadiums.
“I think it was a beautiful goal,” Richarlison said of his bicycle kick from inside the box. He referred to previous and similar goals with Brazil’s Fluminense club and England’s Everton and said: “Today I had the chance to score an acrobatic goal which was very, very beautiful, I think one of the best of my career. It was a very difficult match for us, so I think it was one of the best goals I have scored.”
He has 88 in club play, 19 in international play and two of those 19 on Thursday night, so that’s a lot of goals to assess. “As our professor, Teit, said, ‘You smell the goal,’ ” Richarlison said. “And that’s what happens.” It brought rewards to those who traveled to the stadium in anticipation of beauty while filling the spotless new metro cars and shiny new metro stations with old, reliable, electric yellow.
What they saw and must have appreciated in Portuguese on the way home and a pile of other languages managed to overshadow something even harder to cover. Neymar, Brazil’s most recognizable figure, these days 30 and Paris-based, suffered a setback with an ankle injury in the second half, playing another 11 minutes before his manager realized it, earning praise from his manager for enduring the pain and becoming a subject of news. A team doctor was present at the conference, who said it was too early to say much.
“We are confident that Neymar will continue to play,” Tite said. He will continue to play in the World Cup. If so, he could help Brazil win their first World Cup title in 20 years, as well as follow Pele’s goalscoring record at 77, Neymar at 75. With an electric efficiency in electric yellow, and both goals went on a joyous trek to Richarlison through Vinicius Jr. on Thursday.
It happened in the 62nd minute, when 22-year-old Vinicius Jr., a marvel of power and precision and a Real Madrid employment, corralled a ball that Neymar had lost track of on the left edge of the box and blasted it into goal. , where keeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic sprang to save it before Richarlison easily pushed it away.
That made it 1-0, and it’s what people will carry in the memory bank.
The memorable one came 11 minutes later, and it again depended on the creation of Vinicius Jr. He operated from the left wing, of course, and this time he slid a seeing-eye ball through a tight corridor of human obstruction. It found its way to Richarlison in the box and then came Hua.
Richarlison fielded it with his left foot and ticked it in the air. Then he spun around, turned his body and cycled on the right leg. It barely got an inch above Serbian defender Milos Velijkovic’s left shoulder, as Richarlison’s flying, flying boot nearly knocked Velijkovic in the head. It kept its screeching line and darted just inside the left post, with Milinkovic-Savic as helpless on the end as any of the 8 billion Earthlings would have been. For the second time in a short spell, the entire Brazil team piled into the corner for a heavy celebration.
“It goes up, and he reschedules all his plans,” Tite said of the ball, and what masterful replanners they are.
The starliest of World Cup star teams, Brazil, finally made its 22nd men’s World Cup debut, the 22nd that Brazil has qualified for. In this World Cup in an odd position on the calendar, it ended among the bigwigs who started it. Its fans from all over the world, in large numbers at times, turned up to sing along to the usual rendition of Can’t Wait. Mixed in with some Serbians in red and blue, they emptied into the Lucille Stadium, a futuristic structure that resembled a soap dish lit up at night.
They saw Brazil, the tournament favorites by default, more than capable Serbia in the first half without much fanfare. “At the break,” said the 61-year-old Tite, who has managed Brazil since 2016, “I needed to tell my players to calm down, because first we have to have one. [lightness] We have to pass the ball.”
“We have to get the adrenaline down,” he said.
They made changes in positioning and soon, assistant Kleber Xavier said, “we continued to expand the pace, expand the movement and create opportunities,” causing them to create surprises.
Group G left the starting gate with the Brazilians tied on three points with the Swiss and Richarlison declared “a great night” with “a beautiful win” so that “now we have six more games to reach our target,” but first he will check on Neymar back at the hotel. Serbia, who won their group in the qualifiers, were “always under a lot of pressure” in the match, Titte said, “so it required a lot from us.” It all provided an early start to Brazil’s bid to extend its record total of five World Cup titles to six, and a breathless reminder that Brazil’s reality sometimes measures up to ideals.
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