Brasil missed by that much in the first ninety minutes of the match against Costa Rica. The guys didn’t give up scoring twice in injury time to win 2-0.
This win was huge for the guys.
Switzerland came back from a goal down to beat Serbia 2-1. Both my guys from Brasil and Switzerland each have four points in Group E. Brasil is the top dog with a plus two while the Swiss is a plus one. Serbia is third with three points and Costa Rica has zip-zero-nada.
The Guardians Barney Ronay:” Well, that was late; and indeed more than a little ugly. On a breezy, bad-tempered afternoon by the Gulf of Finland Brazil defeated Costa Rica 2-0 at the St Petersburg Stadium to ease them towards the knock-out stage of Russia 2018.
The goals were both scored in injury time, the key one by their best player Phlippe Coutinho who came haring through a crowd on to a miscrontrolled touch from Roberto Firmino to poke the ball through the legs of Keylor Navas and send the yellow shirts into a wild, squealing catharsis in the stands.
As the clock ticked down Neymar added a second, the Costa Rica defence parting after some fine, dogged efforts. Brazil’s captain celebrated like a World Cup winner having stabbed the ball into an empty net from Douglas Costa’s cross.
It was an eventful day for the world’s costliest player, who was a source of constant friction, who grumbled and moaned and threw himself to the floor constantly and might have been sent off for a combination of dissent and cheating. Neymar wept dramatically on the pitch at the final whistle, shoulders shuddering, hands shielding his visage from the world. Indeed.
Brazil now have four points in Group E. A draw with Serbia will guarantee progress, if not in the wider sense of the word after another performance that stuttered and stumbled. In reality this game will be remembered for Neymar’s antics more than a fine showing from Coutinho, excellent defending from Costa Rica and an important win for Tite’s team.
A turning point seemed to have arrived around the hour, as the Dutch referee Björn Kuipers finally snapped. For the preceding 60 minutes Neymar had been chirping, chattering, groaning, writhing, winging in his ear, enraged at some perceived rough treatment from a gnarled Costa Rica defence.
As Brazil defended a corner Kuipers could be seen telling Brazil’s captain to be quiet in the way an exasperated father might speak to a sullen and spoiled teenager. Seconds later Neymar broke with the ball down the left wing, finding finally a huge green steppe of space in that white-shirted defence.
Seventeen minutes later Kuipers was finally, and briefly, beaten into submission. No doubt it just wears you down. As Giancarlo González touched, briefly, the Neymar abdomen Brazil’s captain toppled backwards in a ludicrous pantomime of a dying sapling. Kuipers gave the penalty. Neymar lay on the floor being cosseted and nursed by his teammates, preposterous spectacle, as though finally victorious in his battle with injustice.
Out of his sight Kuipers trotted off, looked at the VAR screen, and reversed the decision. He should also have booked Neymar. Well played Mr Kuipers, and well played VAR. A penalty would have been a reward for superstar strops, diva-pouts, and utterly graceless behaviour from a man who carries his nation’s name and its sporting reputation.
This World Cup has been waiting for somebody to provide a statement performance, for one of the usual Alpha teams to pull themselves up to their full height and decide that, in fact, this tournament is there for the taking if somebody can get the thrusters lined up, the gears to click, and point all that star power in the stronger squads the right way.
This wasn’t it, at least not for the opening 85 minutes or so. The St Petersburg Stadium is out on the water, lodged beside the stunning cantilevered bridge that swoops in above the tide and funnels the main traffic arteries into the city centre.
It is, as ever at this World Cup, a stunning thing, another enormo-drome with the most astonishingly vast and heavy roof fanned out around steel girders of dizzying scale and heft, ranged above the pitch like a vast iron giant cradling his fingers. The stands were the usual wallpaper-setting of Brazil gold, broken up by some wildly enthusiastic blocks of Costa Rican red as Brazil kicked off with the afternoon sun on the pitch. With Cost Rica unchanged Fagner came in at right‑back for Brazil who pressed early on, Coutinho shooting just over after Bryan Ruiz had given him the ball.
But the blue shirts were slow through midfield, a porridge of sideways passing and sludgy movement. It was Costa Rica who should have taken the lead on 12 minutes, as Celso Borges came striding forward and shot low and hard but past the left‑hand post from a cut-back from Ruiz, with Brazil’s midfield equally static chasing back. A couple of minutes later Neymar was down once again in howls of agony as he turned his ankle, rising to limp on a little sullenly.
Neymar is targeted. But he doesn’t half make it easy, never once hiding his disgust and his distraction, shuddering with celebrity disdain at these lesser beings, these rough boys. Again Neymar went down, this time after “putting a hat on” Cristian Gamboa (nicking the ball over his head) a terrible humiliation in Brazilian football. Again there were chunterings to the referee, a loss of focus, pointless quibbling from a group that would be better served trying to inject some snap into its passing, some venom into its movement.
There were dives and triple-pikes and wonderfully dramatic falls, constant TV closeups of that pained, tearful Neymar face. This is a different player right now to the sprightly warrior of 2014 already an A‑lister then, with the home hopes of his nation, but transformed now into a mardy, perpetually wronged drama-magnet. Life moves pretty fast, Neymar old boy. If you don’t stop rolling around once in a while, you could miss it.
As the teams walked off for half‑time there were complaints from a delegation of Brazil players. Outside the dressing rooms Neymar approached the referee and prattled on some more about his treatment. This was not a dirty game, or anything close to the mugging Brazil’s captain seemed to imagine. Cost Rica were simply competitive. But Brazil looked a fragile, high‑maintenance team here.
And despite his princely status Neymar was overshadowed again here by Coutinho, who really should be taking free kicks, who should right now be the hub of this team, given as much leverage as he likes to take the ball and make the game up in front of him.
Tite took off Willian, who had been poor, at half time, and put on the more direct Douglas Costa. And suddenly Brazil were tearing into Costa Rica, Jesus heading powerfully on to the bar from a Douglas cross. The ball bounced out to Coutinho whose shot was deflected just wide by Cristian Gamboa.
And still most of the good things for Brazil came through Coutinho, the chugging, ferreting heart of an otherwise prosaic midfield.
Tite twisted again, bringing on Roberto Firmino for Paulinho. Neymar shot wide of the post on the run with space in front of him. Clearly he has rushed his way back to this tournament. But he doesn’t deal with rustiness well.
Moments late Neymar was finally booked, this time for a pathetic hissy fit, throwing the ball away after a tackle. Frankly, he should have been off at that stage, for the sake of a no-doubt exasperated audience and also for his own benefit. Something is awry here. This was not the behaviour or the demeanour of a happy young superstar athlete, or indeed anyone charged with providing entertainment for a dizzyingly high price. Two late goals will disguise a strange performance from a team with plenty of work still to do.