Brazil 2 Serbia 0
Goals like this are what World Cups are about
The drums were thumping in the stands of the Lusail Stadium, the traditional sound of World Cup football colliding with the modern opulence of this enormous Qatari arena, and the Brazilian boys were suddenly dancing to the samba beat.
Sometimes all it takes is a single moment, or in this case a single kick of a football, for an entire arena, and an entire team, to be transformed. Brazil were a little disjointed and, dare we say it, a little unimaginative for much of this game against an organised Serbia. And then, a flash of yellow, a burst of light. Richarlison took off, his back to goal and his feet somehow over his head, to ignite his team’s campaign and perhaps this World Cup as a whole.
We are only through one round of the most controversial football tournament in the history of the game, but already we might have witnessed its finest goal. It will take something truly remarkable to oust Richarlison’s effort, all springy power and fluid technique. One touch to flick the ball into the air, another to rip it into the net.
It might also take something truly remarkable to oust Brazil as a team. Post-Richarlison, it was as if a switch had been flicked for Tite’s side. The passes were travelling with an extra purpose, the wingers travelling with an extra speed. Richarlison’s masterpiece had reminded them of who they are and what they are born to do, and Serbia were fortunate that this game did not end with a more emphatic scoreline.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) November 24, 2022
The joy of Richarlison’s goal, a delight in its sheer Brazilianness as much as anything else, proved infectious for his team. Perhaps the Qatari organisers of this World Cup, and indeed Fifa, will be hoping it proves infectious for the rest of us. After all those pleas to “focus on the football”, this was the moment, you suspect, they were waiting for. All eyes were on Richarlison, and the beauty of this sport at its finest.
How fitting, too, that this World Cup’s golden moment (so far) came in its golden arena. Literally, as the 89,000-capacity Lusail Stadium has been created with a gleaming golden exterior, which shone bright against the night sky long before kick-off here.
That gold will deliberately be allowed to fade over time, the organisers have said, to “replicate aged metal handicrafts”. For Richarlison and his team-mates, however, the memories of his goal — his second on the night, but by far the most magical — will not fade for some time.
Richarlison has arrived, shouldering the considerable burden that comes with being Brazil’s No 9. Brazil have arrived, too, and the strength of their bench here should serve as a warning to any nation that fancies themselves as contenders.
What must Serbia have been thinking when Gabriel Jesus, Antony, Gabriel Martinelli and Rodrygo were thrown into the action as second-half substitutes? Perhaps the only response is the same one triggered by Richarlison’s bicycle kick: first to laugh, and then to shake your head in disbelief.
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Brazil's quality told in the end
You have to feel a bit bad for Serbia because they defended well for 60 minutes, but they were eventually outclassed by a very strong Brazil side.
Richarlison, whose form has been indifferent for Tottenham this season, was the difference. A good poacher's finish for the first and a wonderful volley for the second. He is just so good for Brazil.
Vinicius and Rodrygo were also very good, but Neymar was somewhat underwhelming. He showed glimpses and was fouled a lot, but he was probably playing too deep to have a full impact. He did have a good run before the first goal.
Serbia offered very little going forward, and you're always going to come under pressure if you do that.
FULL TIME: Brazil 2 Serbia 0
Two goals from Richarlison are the difference.
90+6 mins: Brazil 2 Serbia 0
The game is petering out. Brazil know they've won and Serbia know they're beaten.
90+2 mins: Brazil 2 Serbia 0
Danilo is limping a bit, but Brazil have used all five subs so he'll have to carry on.
90 mins: Brazil 2 Serbia 0
Seven minutes of added time.
88 mins: Brazil 2 Serbia 0
Sub for Brazil: Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli comes on for Raphinha.
Martinelli nearly has an instant impact with a surging run and cross but it doesn't find anyone.
87 mins: Brazil 2 Serbia 0
Rodrygo puts it over the bar! Antony with some showboating out wide before he slips it to Rodrygo on the edge of the box. The Real Madrid man has some good feet and curls it towards the top corner but misses the target.
84 mins: Brazil 2 Serbia 0
Sub for Serbia. Mitrovic off for Maksimovic.
Another angle of the goal
82 mins: Brazil 2 Serbia 0
Casemiro hits the bar! Jesus tees him up at the edge of the box and he side-foots it onto the bar. Keeper was beaten.
A shot soon after from Rodrygo which was parried by Milinkovic-Savic.
79 mins: Brazil 2 Serbia 0
Subs for Brazil: Richarlison and Neymar off for Gabriel Jesus and Antony.
Some concern over Neymar, as he looks like he may be injured. The No 10 limped off and has had ankle problems before, so the Brazil camp will be worried.
Pictures: That second goal
76 mins: Brazil 2 Serbia 0
Brazil subs: Paqueta and Vinicius off for Rodrygo and Fred.
Richarlison with a bicycle kick after a good dribbling and cross from Vinicius.
It could be goal of the tournament.
Brazil 2 Serbia 0.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) November 24, 2022
72 mins: Brazil 1 Serbia 0
A couple of Serbian chances from a corner. The ball goes into the back post and is headed away, only to be headed back in by a Serbian player. Marquinhos then heads away from inside the six-yard box and then there's a wild shot from outside the box.
Serbia have responded a bit to the goal going in.
69 mins: Brazil 1 Serbia 0
Pavlovic has a header at a corner but it goes over the bar. He should have left it for Milenkovic who was behind him.
68 mins: Brazil 1 Serbia 0
Brazil with another chance. Neymar was breaking and should have passed to Vinicius but was tackled by Milenkovic. Vinicius then picked up the ball but slipped as he went to hit it.
Will they rue the miss?
66 mins: Brazil 1 Serbia 0
Subs for Serbia. Lukic and Mladenovic off for Lazovic and Vlahovic.
Juventus' Vlahovic could be very dangerous.
64 mins: Brazil 1 Serbia 0
How is Richarlison so good for Brazil? He scores almost every other game, but only has one for Tottenham so far this season.
Will this force Serbia to come out a bit?
Richarlison puts it away after a Vinicius shot is parried by the keeper. Some great play by Neymar in the build up.
Brazil 1 Serbia 0.
60 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Alex Sandro hits the post with a great low strike from 25 yards. Milinkovic-Savic was beaten but it stays nil-nil.
59 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Tadic floats a cross to the back post and Alex Sandro heads behind for a corner. He had an attacker behind him ready to put it away.
A bit more pressure from Serbia now.
57 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Subs for Serbia: Gudelj and Zivkovic come off for Ilcic and Radonjic.
56 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Neymar strikes wide! Vinicius again is free on the left and has time to pick out Neymar with a low cross. The PSG forward swings for it too early and puts it wide of the goal.
Neymar has been playing higher in this half and it's putting pressure on Serbia.
53 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Nearly a chance for Raphinha after Paqueta played him in inside the box. Pavlovic, who is on a booking, slid in brilliantly just as Raphinha was winding up to take the shot.
52 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Neymar's freekick clips the top of the wall and goes for a corner.
The ball then bounces about the box after the corner, but no chance for Brazil.
49 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Neymar is galloping towards the box with the ball and Gudelj snaps him with a bad tackle. He is booked for it. Free kick in a dangerous area.
And we're off again
The second half starts and Brazil nearly have a chance within the first minute, but Milinkovic-Savic makes himself big and stops it.
Vinicius has been the main threat so far
While all eyes have been on Neymar, it has been Real Madrid's Vinicius who has been the main threat for Brazil.
He has managed to find himself in a bit of space between the right centre-back and right wing-back. He's bound to get chances if Serbia don't keep their eye on him.
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The first half in pictures
Half-time: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
A scrappy first-half ends goalless. Only one chance really, which fell to Raphinha. Serbia have defended well but Brazil have been the better team.
Half of the games in this tournament so far have been goalless at half time.
45 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Only one minute of additional time! What is happening? Do the officials feel okay?
44 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Neymar finally shows what he capable of with a good run where he skips past a few players and challenges. He finds Raphinha who does well on the right but runs the ball out after Pavlovic leaped at him with a slide tackle.
42 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Chance for Vinicius. A good ball forward is intercept on the volley by Milenkovic, but it bounces off his head into the path of the Real Madrid attacker. But Vinicius puts it past the post with the inside of his right foot. He really should have done better.
40 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Serbia have been better in the last few minutes and are now putting a bit of pressure on. Mladenovic had a header at the back post after a floated cross from the right, but he wasn't even close to the target.
It will encourage them after a period of extended defending.
Saying that, Brazil haven't been great despite a fair amount of possession. Serbia are managing to prevent them from getting any real chances.
Pictured: Neymar rolling around
36 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Raphinha with the best chance so far. After an extended period of Brazil possession, the Barcelona forward works a one-two with Paqueta, which gives him some space inside the box. But the effort was poor. He essentially passed it to the goalie with the inside of his left foot.
32 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Casemiro picks out Raphinha with a great long pass. The former Leeds man heads it into the middle but it is headed behind by the defender.
Neymar nearly picked out Thiago Silva with a low cross from the following corner after a great back heel from Lucas Paqueta. Silva was just a bit late and Vanja Milinkovic-Savic picked it up.
Brazil are growing into the game and looking more threatening.
29 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Nearly a chance for Brazil. Thiago Silva with a great through ball to Vinicius, who is one on one. But the goalkeeper comes charging out and dives well at Vinicius' feet, before sprinting again and clearing the ball.
The Serbia right-back switched off a bit and let Vinicius go free inside the box there.
26 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Nearly a chance for Serbia. Tadic finds himself free out wide right, and Mitrovic was unmarked in the box. Tadic floated the cross in but Alisson read it well and came out to catch it before Mitrovic could get his head to it. The Brazilian defence seemed to be sleeping a bit.
In pictures: The match so far
22 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Neymar has his first shot of the game. It's a rasper from outside the box but is blocked by Velkjovic before it gets anywhere near the goal.
Casemiro has a shot from outside the box not long after, but it is saved easily by the keeper.
20 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
We've just seen Neymar rolling about for the first time. He did receive a bit of a kick on the ankle from Lukic as he went past him, but I'm not sure he had to roll so many times.
When the sides played in 2018 the Serbs got very annoyed about Neymar's play acting.
18 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Serbia certainly look a match for Barzil so far. they've had a few periods of extended possession, are pressing high and getting stuck in.
They seem to be pretty solid, but anything can happen with Brazil's talented forwards.
14 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Vinicius shows some great pace to go past his defender on the left and nearly fashion a chance, but there was a last ditch challenge.
Neymar then nearly scored direct from the corner after spotting Milinkovic-Savic off his line, but the Serbian managed to get back and put it over the bar.
The closest there's been to a goal or chance so far.
13 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
We've seen some of Brazil's flair players getting properly stuck in so far. Paqueta gave away a free-kick after kicking Mitrovic in the ankle and Raphinha won the ball back with a well spirited challenge.
Perhaps they've been told to be more physical because of the attacking make up of the team.
11 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Nearly a chance for Neymar. Casemiro found him inside the box with a great pass and he managed to get it out of his feet, but he couldn't find space for a shot and eventually a defender took it off him.
First time Neymar has found himself in any space.
7 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
It's been a bit scrappy so far. No side has managed to hold onto the ball for any period of time or create any chances.
Serbia defender Pavlovic has been booked for a cynical foul on Neymar around the half-way line. Maybe the ref is laying down a marker.
5 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
By Tom Morgan at Lusail Stadium
Almost as packed here at the 88,000-seater stadium as it was for Argentina against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Argentina took the biggest following to Doha, but Brazil are not far behind. The metros and space age shopping district nearby the Lusail were packed with yellow shirts, outnumbering Serbians 30 to one.
Reassuringly, given ultra-conservative local customs, about a third of the South American following are women.
The Brazilians have come in their tens of thousands because this appears to be their best chance yet of lifting a sixth World Cup – even than the one that came crashing off the rails on home soil against Germany in 2014
Brazil's qualifying form - 14 wins out of a possible 17. Neymar needs two goals to take Pele's international record.
4 mins: Brazil 0 Serbia 0
Brazil pressing very high from the start, but Serbia are matching them. The Europeans are trying to keep the five-time world champions in their own half.
And we're off!
Richarlison kicks off for Brazil.
The teams have now walked out the tunnel and have lined up to sing their national anthems.
The Brazil one is a belter, I had forgotten about it!
What do you think the score will be?
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Officials have to warm up too
Mitrovic the danger man?
Alexander Mitrovic is sensational for Serbia. He has 50 goals in 76 games and has scored nine in 12 Premier League appearances this season.
He's so good that he's keeping Vlahovic and Jovic out of the team, although there are reports that the former has some injury problems.
Can he be the man to upset the favourites? He did so in qualifying against Portugal.
Can Neymar beat Pele's record?
A hat-trick tonight would see Neymar become Brazil's top scorer of all time. He has 75 goals for his country, while Pele scored 77.
Can he take a leaf out of Olivier Giroud's book? The AC Milan striker became France's joint top scorer in his side's opener against Australia.
The latest from our man on the ground
By Sam Dean in Qatar
Brazil. At the World Cup. In front of 80,000 people. This is what it's all about, isn't it? And this is what Qatar must have been thinking of when it first decided to bid for the World Cup. The quintessential footballing experience, in their own backyard, in front of the watching world. Does that take away some of the glitz and glamour of the night? That's up to you. Being here, in the stadium, it is hard to be anything but excited. And I know how that sounds. There's a reason Qatar wanted these kind of nights – because they are irresistible.
Pictures: Teams warming up
Serbia giving nothing away in terms of formation
— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA of Serbia (@FSSrbije) November 24, 2022
Escalação da Seleção Brasileira CONFIRMADA!
Logo mais a bola rola para a estreia do Brasil na Copa do Mundo FIFA Qatar 2022#FIFAWorldCup #WorldcupQatar2022 #SelecaoBrasileira pic.twitter.com/3p9P1ZZPZm
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) November 24, 2022
Mitrovic starts for Serbia
Fulham striker Alexander Mitrovic had been expected to come on from the bench due to a recent injury, but he is in the starting XI tonight. Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic and Fiorentina's Luka Jovic are on the bench.
Both Milinkovic-Savic brothers start, with midfielder Sergej, who plays for Lazio, highly sought after by some of Europe's top clubs.
Ex-Southampton midfielder Dusan Tadic captains the side.
Paqueta and Richarlison start for Brazil
West Ham's Lucas Paqueta and Tottenham's Richarlison start for the 2002 World Cup winners. Paqueta is in at the expense of Manchester United midfielder Fred.
Liverpool's Alisson strts in goal ahead of Manchester City's Ederson. Chelsea's Thiago Silva captains the side and Manchester United's Casemiro partners Paqueta in midfield.
As expected, talisman Neymar starts in deeper role then usual, with Vinicius Junior, ex-Leeds man Raphinha and Richarlison in front of him. Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli are both on the bench, as is Manchester United's Antony.
A potent attack, but the age of the defence may be a concern. PSG's Marquinhos is the only member of the back four under the age of 30.
The teams are out
Brazil: Alisson; Danilo, Thiago Silva (c), Marquinhos, Alex Sandro; Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta, Neymar; Vinicius Jr., Raphinha, Richarlison.
Serbia: Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, Milos Veljkovic, Filip Mladenovic, Strahinja Pavlovic, Nikola Milenkovic, Andrija Zivkovic, Nemanja Gudelj, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Sasa Lukic, Dusan Tadic (c), Aleksandar Mitrovic.
A re-run of 2018
Brazil and Serbia faced each other four years ago in Russia, with goals from Thiago Silva and Paulinho giving the South Americans a 2-0 win.
Brazil come into the tournament as the favourites and the top-ranked team as the latest Fifa rankings were released on October 6.
Twenty years since their last World Cup glory, the team will be looking to pick up the trophy for a sixth time. Their best performance since the 2002 triumph was on home soil in 2014. It was one of the worst games in Brazilian football history, as they were thumped 7-1 by eventual winners Germany. In 2006, 2010 and 2018, they reached the quarter-finals, losing by one goal on each occasion.
But the good times seem to be back. They have lost just one game since the turn of 2021; by one goal to Argentina in the Copa America final last year.
Brazil finished top of the pile in qualifying with 45 points, a record in South American World Cup qualifying. Neymar finished as their top scorer with eight goals.
All eyes will be on the PSG forward, who was magnificent in 2014 but was disappointing four years ago. He only needs two goals to equal Pele's record of 77 goals and has been in good form this season, with 15 goals and 12 assists in all competitions this season.
Serbia will be hoping to perform better than they did in 2018, as they crashed out the group stage with only one win.
Since then, they failed to qualify for Euro 2020 after a play-off penalty defeat to Scotland, but were excellent in their World Cup qualifying campaign. They finished ahead of Portugal and were unbeaten, with six wins and two draws.
They have continued their good form, with striker Aleksandar Mitrovic netted his 50th international goal as his side outclassed Norway to top Nations League B Group 4 and gain promotion to League A. Serbia finished the campaign on 13 points from six games, three ahead of second-placed Norway.