Casemiro’s stunning volley was enough for Brazil to edge Switzerland 1-0 and book its place in the last 16 at the 2022 World Cup.
The big question ahead of the match against Switzerland was, how would Brazil cope without the injured Neymar? The answer is just fine, as the Seleção produced a gritty performance to beat Switzerland thanks to Casemiro’s finish.
The five-time world champions toiled for long periods of the game, and clearly lacked Neymar’s spark, but Tite has built a team not built on jogo bonito, but on functional efficiency.
Despite a game that was tepid at times, they got the job done. Brazil is now only the second team, along with France, to have won their opening two matches.
After a drab first half, the nerves of the numerous Brazilian fans were palpable. Those spectators thought Brazil had broken the deadlock just after the hour mark through Vinicius Jr. A quickfire counter-attack capped off by the Real Madrid winger sent the stadium fans into raptures, only for VAR to cut their celebrations short.
Just as the game seemed to be heading towards a stale 0-0 draw, the most unlikely hero found the winner. For the first time, the Brazilians put together a flowing move, before Rodrygo flicked a pass around the corner into the path of the onrushing Casemiro who smashed the ball into the top corner.
Clearly lacking Neymar’s creativity, it was Brazil’s defense which impressed most. Led by Thiago Silva, the backline hardly looked under threat and did not allow the Swiss to register a single shot on target all game. After doing the same against Serbia, Alisson is the only keeper at the tournament yet to save a shot on target.
Fans will still be desperate for Neymar to return to action as he is the heart and soul of the team, but Tite and his team have shown that this Brazil side, unlike previous iterations, offers far more than just what Neymar can produce.
Serbia and Cameroon in six-goal thriller
Serbia and Cameroon played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at the World Cup in what was one of the most entertaining games of the tournament so far.
Jean-Charles Castelletto gave Cameroon the lead in the first half, but Serbia scored twice in quick succession through Strahinja Pavlović and Sergej Milinković-Savić to turn the game around just before halftime.
As the match opened up in the second half, Aleksandar Mitrović finished off a brilliant team move to extend Serbia’s lead and put his team on course for its first victory of the tournament.
But Cameroon responded minutes later as substitute Vincent Aboubakar scooped an outrageous shot over the head of Serbian goalkeeper Vanja Milinković-Savić. Initially disallowed for offside, the goal was allowed to stand after a video assistant referee (VAR) review.
Soon after, Aboubakar got in behind Serbia’s defense once again and found Bayern Munich forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to score Cameroon’s third and level the match.
The chances kept coming for both teams, but it ended as a draw at Qatar’s Al Janoub Stadium.
With both sides losing their opening games of the tournament – Serbia against Brazil and Cameroon against Switzerland – they will need to win their next games to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages.
On top of the six goals, the action-packed encounter will also be remembered for the way some of those goals were celebrated.
Cameroon’s Christian Bassogog and Serbia’s Luka Jović, both substitutes, were yellow carded when they ran onto the pitch with other substitutes to celebrate their teams’ goals.
And when Mitrović scored the fourth goal of the game, he ran over to Serbia’s subs bench to celebrate with his teammates waiting on the touchline.
Ghana and Korea put on a show in wild 3-2 Black Stars win
In Group H, it was Mohammed Kudus who was the star of the show, scoring a brace as Ghana beat South Korea 3-2.
The Black Stars opened the scoring against the run of play in the 24th minute after Mohammed Salisu tapped home from an indirect free kick. Ten minutes later, the Ghanaians doubled their lead as Kudus glanced home a header.
But Korea was not down and out. Cho Gue-sung scored two goals in the space of three minutes to draw level on the hour mark. Just as the Koreans thought they could go on to win it, Kudus popped up with a second goal to win the game for the West Africans.
Ghana survived a late Korean onslaught to take the three points and leave the group wide open ahead of Portugal and Uruguay’s clash later.
South Korea was left devastated as manager Paulo Bento was sent off after the final whistle for protesting to referee Anthony Taylor. He will now miss Korea’s final match of the group against Portugal.
Brazil and Switzerland face off in Group G’s other game on Monday, while Portugal faces Uruguay in Group H.