By Ossian Shine
DOHA (Reuters) – With one of the best performances of the World Cup, the Brazilian team thrashed South Korea 4-1 this Monday in a clash for the round of 16 of the World Cup marked by the return of striker Neymar, who scored his first goal at the World Cup, and will now face Croatia in the quarterfinals.
The Brazilians managed to demonstrate all their offensive talent on the field in the match played at Estádio 974 and simply did not give the South Koreans a chance, ending Asian hopes in the tournament.
Having gone through the entire group stage without scoring a single goal in the first half, Brazil corrected the problem by scoring all four of their goals against South Korea before half-time.
After 7 minutes, striker Vinícius Jr. opened the scoring by finishing calmly after Raphinha’s cross from the right.
Back in the team after recovering from an ankle injury that left him out of Brazil’s last two matches, Neymar doubled up in the 13th minute, from a penalty kick, after Richarlison was brought down inside the area.
“I was very scared because I was doing very well, playing a very good season, suffering an injury like that… I spent the night and the next day crying a lot, but everything worked out, it was worth it, it was worth the effort to keep treating it”, he said. Neymar in an interview with TV Globo after the match.
“We dream of the title, of course. It was the fourth game today, we have three to go. We are very focused to get this title”, he added.
Richarlison scored the third Brazilian goal when he finished with style after a beautiful pass from defender Thiago Silva, who left the attacker alone to touch the South Korean goalkeeper’s exit, in the 29th minute.
Soon after, Vinicius Jr. he advanced on the left and crossed for Lucas Paquetá to finish in the middle of the area and score the fourth Brazilian goal.
“It’s normal, over time we would grow in the competition and with each passing game we are more confident and in tune. Today we played with a team that gave us space, and when they give us space, it is very difficult for the opponents”, said Vinícius Jr. after the match.
In the second stage, Brazil just managed the result and reduced the volume of the game, while South Korea went on the attack. In the 31st minute, Paik Seung-ho took a risk from outside the area and hit goalkeeper Alisson’s angle to score the only South Korean goal of the match.
Brazil still wasted several chances to increase the scoreboard, sometimes by exaggerating the backheel touches or far-fetched passes, but did not have the ranking threatened at any time by the South Koreans, who were the last Asians still alive in the tournament.
Following Japan’s penalty shootout loss to Croatia earlier and Australia’s loss to Argentina, all three Asian Confederation teams were eliminated in the Round of 16.
After the final whistle, the players of the Brazilian team opened a flag with a photo and the name of Pelé in the center of the lawn, in homage to the former player who is hospitalized in São Paulo during treatment against cancer.
Brazil will return to the pitch on Friday to face Croatia in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. The Croatians, current world runners-up, beat Japan earlier in the penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw at the end of extra time.
(Additional reporting by Fernando Cardoso in Sao Paulo)
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