Brazil started their FIFA World Cup campaign on an impressive note as they beat Serbia 2-0 in their opening contest. A brace from Richarlison in the second half saw the five-time champions make a winning start as they now sit on top of the pile along with Switzerland, who beat Cameroon earlier on Thursday (November 24). However, the only worry for the management of Brazil will be Neymar’s injury who had an ankle issue and was substituted.
What happened in the match?
The European side stifled the No 1-ranked team for over an hour but the Tottenham forward's close-range finish after Vinicius Junior's shot was pushed into his path by goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic finally brought Brazil their hard-fought lead.
Richarlison then lit up the Lusail Stadium in Qatar with a stunning strike on the turn that arrowed beyond the Serbia goalkeeper to double the advantage. His brilliant performance more than justified his selection as Brazil's striker ahead of Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus.
Raphinha had earlier wasted chances to make the breakthrough either side of half-time, shooting tamely on both occasions, while Alex Sandro's swerving effort from distance struck the foot of the post as Tite's side pushed to break down a resolute Serbia team.
Brazil were defensively strong as they extended their unbeaten run in World Cup openers to 20 games. Although there will be bigger tests as the five-time champions seek to end their 20-year wait to win this tournament, this turned out to be a commanding start.
Serbia stay strong for an hour
For an hour, Serbia made it tough. By the end, it was difficult to remember that, so dominant were Brazil, so rampant were they in overwhelming their opponents. As soon as Serbia had to go in search of a goal, the gaps were there for them to exploit.
Vinicius looked so dangerous, creating all sorts of problems. Neymar had his moments, though his injury late in the game is a major concern. Such is the depth of attacking talent in this squad, however, optimism should be the prevailing emotion after this.
Neymar injury scare
This World Cup was supposed to be Neymar's redemption song after two failed tilts at the trophy. The sight of him slumped on the bench after being substituted and the images that have emerged of his swollen ankle are alarming. Even with 11 days until Brazil's likely round-of-16 tie, there is little time for Neymar to recover and show his best form.