Brazil 4-1 South Korea: Neymar closes in on Pele’s record as World Cup favourites cruise into quarter-finals

 (AP)
(AP)

Brazil cruised into the quarter-finals of the World Cup as they hammered South Korea 4-1 at Stadium 974.

Only once have Brazil lost a last-16 match at football’s biggest tournament, and an absolutely ruthless opening 36 minutes ensured that tally never looked like being doubled.

First-half goals from Vinicius Jr, Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta blew South Korea away, and meant Brazilian fans did not have to wait long before they could start making plans for the quarter-final clash against Croatia on Friday. Paik Seung-ho’s late consolation did nothing to halt the carnival atmosphere.

Neymar’s strike was his 76th in a Brazil shirt, the 30-year-old now just one away from Pele’s all-time goalscoring record.

Brazil’s all-star front-line quickly got into their work and needed just seven minutes to break the deadlock. Raphinha skipped into space on the right, his cut back ran all the way through to Vinicius who curled a lovely finish into the far corner.

The dancing to celebrate it had barely died down by the time Richarlison was brought down in the box, Neymar stepping up to dispatch the most nonchalant of penalties.

The pick of the bunch came on the halfway mark, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos making a mockery of the centre-back label as their one-touch passing put Richarlison through, and he did his rest for his third goal of the tournament.

Tite got involved with the dancing this time, so well were things going for his team. Paqueta then made it four before half-time, volleying home emphatically after Vinicius scooped the ball up into his path.

Raphinha, Paqueta and Richarlison all could, and probably should, have extended the advantage in first-half stoppage-time, as the South Korean defence ceased to offer any form resistance.

Heung-min Son should have done better himself a couple of minutes after the restart, though was denied by one of a number of brilliant saves Alisson was forced to produce, despite his side’s dominance.

Raphinha had a couple of chances to get himself on the scoresheet but could not take advantage, the match slowing down considerably with both sides fully aware that it was well over as a contest.

Alisson was unable to do anything about a late strike from Paik, rifled past the Liverpool goalkeeper from distance, as South Korea got the consolation their attacking ambition deserved.