|An emotional Neymar celebrates as Brazil secure a late victory against Costa Rica (image from Metro)|
It seemed as if it was going to be another frustrating display for Brazil against a stubborn defence, but two late goals secured them victory and the all-important three points. With attempt after attempt, Brazil struggled to find a way through Costa Rica’s resilient defence. But their fans breathed a sigh of relief as Coutinho netted his second goal in Russia, in the 91st minute. Neymar rounded things off, by finally scoring his first goal of the tournament, in the last minute of injury time.
In a similar fashion to the first game against Switzerland, Brazil lacked creativity with most of their efforts on goal being from long range, in the first half. Whenever Costa Rica won the ball back, they passed the ball amongst themselves quite effectively and often tried to attack down the right, especially when Marcelo had committed himself in the opposition’s half. The best chance of the first half arguably came to Costa Rica, with Borges dragging his shot just wide.
|Neymar is brought down in the box, but the referee’s decision, with the help of VAR, goes against him. (Image from the Telegraph)|
After the substitution of Douglas Costa onto the field, Brazil looked livelier and were starting to control the game better. They thought they finally had a chance to make their breakthrough, as Neymar seemed to be fouled and the referee pointed to the spot. Referee Bjorn Kuipers decided to use VAR to review the incident and ended up going against his original decision. Neymar and Kuipers didn’t particularly get along as several times throughout the course of the match, Neymar claimed to be fouled but the referee was having none of it. Eventually, Neymar got booked for dissent as he threw the ball away, infuriated that yet another decision didn’t go his way.
But even in the dying minutes of the game, this Brazil side showed belief and it eventually paid off, with Gabriel Jesus laying it off to Coutinho in the penalty area, and the Barcelona star slotting the ball into the back of the net. The game opened up after Brazil’s goal, and they still continued to attack. In the last minute of added time, Douglas Costa squared the ball to Neymar who comfortably side footed the ball home, on the volley. He may not have had his best performance, but Neymar would be glad that he finally got a goal to his name.
The win for Brazil keeps them in contention to qualify for the knockout phase, but sends Costa Rica crashing out, with two losses in a row.
Brazil player ratings
Alisson (5) – Costa Rica couldn’t register a shot on target, so he had nothing to do.
Fagner (5) – Solid defensively, but Brazil often attacked down the left so wasn’t particularly involved on the attack.
Thiago Silva (6) – Costa Rica barely attacked so he didn’t have much to do.
Miranda (6) – Again, wasn’t too busy.
Marcelo (8) – Strong performance going forward and was involved in Brazil’s first goal.
Paulinho (7) – Solid game from the Barcelona midfielder, linked up well with Douglas Costa.
Casemiro (7) – Anchored the midfield well and passed the ball confidently.
Coutinho (8) – Been one of Brazil’s best players this tournament, despite often being under Neymar’s spotlight. Scored a crucial goal and was always threatening the defence.
Willian (4) – Wasn’t too involved as Brazil often attacked down the left flank. But when he did have the ball, gave the ball away several times. Subbed off at half time.
Gabriel Jesus (7) – Always looking to get in behind the defence, but often didn’t get the service he needed. Assisted Coutinho for the first goal.
Neymar (6) – Visibly frustrated when fouled and decisions weren’t going his way, but showed resilience throughout the game and finally got his goal.
Costa Rica player ratings
Keylor Navas (7) – Made key saves and couldn’t really be faulted for the two goal he conceded.
Johnny Acosta (6) – Solid, but started to tire towards the end.
Giancarlo Gonzalez (5) – Almost gave away a penalty, but luckily for him the decision was overturned by VAR.
Oscar Duarte (7) – Strong defensively throughout the game.
Cristian Gamboa (7) – Costa Rica’s best player going forward, threatened their defence with his runs forwards on the right.
Brian Oviedo (5) – Quiet performance from the former Everton player.
Celso Borges (5) – Will be kicking himself for missing a huge chance in the first half.
David Guzman (6) – Good defensive game from him.
Johan Venegas (5) – Wasn’t particularly effective on the attack.
Bryan Ruiz (6) – A decent game from him but would have wanted to get involved more going forwards.
|Coutinho breaks the deadlock (Image from NDTV Sports)|
Man of the match: Phillipe Coutinho- Another key performance and another goal him, Coutinho has been impressive this tournament and is always a danger for the opposition.