Richarlison scores stunner as Brazil make winning start to World Cup
World Cup favourites Brazil made a winning start to their bid for glory in Qatar as they eased to a 2-0 win over Serbia.
Looking to end their 20-year drought on the biggest stage, it was a far from convincing opening period from the Selecao, going into the break with it still goalless after a half devoid of much action.
But having seen Argentina and Germany already slip-up, Brazil ensured they were not added to the upset list as Richarlison netted a second-half brace, the second a sensational volley to effectively put the match to bed.
Tite put an attacking team out for his side’s opening Group G clash, Casemiro almost a one-man midfield at times as the five players ahead of him put their focus on getting forward.
Despite the stars on show, it was a cagey 45 minutes, Serbia’s shape and doggedness more than a match for the quality in yellow. Vinicius Jr had a couple of bright moments out wide on the left, but could not produce the final ball.
The best chance of the first-half fell for Raphinha, after he combined brilliantly with Lucas Paqueta. That left the Barcelona winger clean through on goal, though the finish that followed was little more than a back-pass to Vanja Milinkovic-Savic.
Brazil should really have taken the lead seconds after the restart, as Serbia were caught playing out from the back, but once again Raphinha could not provide the finish with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The pressure began to increase, as Neymar fired wide from inside the box and Sandro’s effort from distance thumped back off the inside of the post and away to safety.
Serbia could not hold on though, the goal coming just after the hour mark. Vinicius’ low strike was palmed out into the six-yard box, where Richarlison was waiting to turn it into the empty net to continue his strong goalscoring run at international level.
There was nothing simple about his finish for the second goal, a stunning strike to put Brazil in complete control. The Tottenham man took one touch to control the cross from Vinicius with his back to goal, and a second to send a brilliant scissor-kick into the bottom corner.
The mood was slightly soured almost immediately as Neymar went off after going down, limping off the pitch to spark concerns over his fitness.
Brazil threatened to really run away with it in the closing stages, Casemiro curling a wonderful strike against the bar before Rodrygo twice went close as the space opened up. Serbia were relieved when the final whistle came, their goal difference not too severely damaged.