Serbia was able to keep up with Brazil for a half. Then Richarlison woke up and stunned his brace with a wonderful goal.
For an hour, a surprise like that of eternal rivals Argentina and Germany seemed possible. But then Brazil showed clearly why the record world champion is the top favorite for the title.
A brace from Richarlison made it 2-0 against Serbia. This result had already been achieved in the group phase in 2018.
Yellow for Pavlovic
An acquaintance from the Bundesliga was there in the largest stadium of the World Cup. Salzburg defender Pavlovic acted intensively as usual – the referee from Iran had something against it and immediately showed yellow for the first foul against Neymar (6th).
The superstar didn’t play up front like in Paris, but as an attacking midfielder. Center forward Richarlison initially seemed like a foreign body.
There were hardly any combinations in the penalty area. The Serbs defended compactly and aggressively with their back three and four other security forces in front of them.
Juve duo was missing
However, it was obvious that two regulars were missing on the offensive – there were no scoring chances for the outsider. After leaving Turin from their club Juventus, Vlahovic and Kostic were not fit enough to play from the start.
Neymar tried the first goal approach with a direct corner (13th). After a hole pass to Vinícius Júnior, goalkeeper Milinkovic-Savic (the playmaker’s brother) was quicker (27′). It wasn’t until the 35th minute that the majority of the 88,000 spectators got ready to celebrate, but Raphina finished poorly after a one-two.
Because Vinícius hesitated too long, the Serbs saved the zero in the break (41st). The defensive strength had already ensured a World Cup qualification without defeat.
Just a few seconds after the restart, a play in the penalty area created the top chance: Raphina stole the ball but didn’t put it in the goal.
Goal with announcement
The pressure increased, the Serbs wobbled – after an hour the goalpost did the same. Alex Sandro had withdrawn.
So the 1-0 had announced itself. In minute 63 it fell. Neymar dribbled into the danger zone, Vinícius shot, Milinkovic-Savic saved, but Richarlison then took part in the game. The 25-year-old dusted humorlessly.
The Serbs increased the offensive, Vlahovic should at least help as a joker.
But on the other side, a gentleman with dyed blond hair showed his best side. Vinícius put his outside instep halfway up, Richarlison took the ball with his left and skilfully, turned and slammed the ball – lying crosswise in the air – with his right foot and full force into the net, 2:0 (73rd).
After an extremely discreet first half, the Tottenham legionnaire became the hero of the Seleção in the second. And Richarlison is also set to earn a mention for one of Qatar’s finest goals.
Six minutes later, the working day was over for him and Neymar. Two Premier League stars, Gabriel Jesus and Antony, came as wildcards – a warning for upcoming opponents who might hold out longer than the brave but completely harmless Serbs.