Manchester derby - advantage City

Manchester City go top of the Premier League with this derby win over United.

The Manchester City forward has netted just twice for his country but still has a key role to play for Gareth Southgate's side in Russia
Goal-shy Sterling still vital for England
The Manchester City forward has netted just twice for his country but still has a key role to play for Gareth Southgate's side in Russia
The Manchester City forward has netted just twice for his country but still has a key role to play for Gareth Southgate's side in Russia
Goal-shy Sterling still vital for England
The Manchester City forward has netted just twice for his country but still has a key role to play for Gareth Southgate's side in Russia
Guide to the best World Cup free bets and offers Betting guide: predictions and tips for England v Panama What is it? England's second Group G match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia is only hours away as they take on Panama. Gareth Southgate's side got off to a terrific start with a late 2-1 win over Tunisia, thanks to Harry Kane's double. Now it's on to Panama, before their final group game against Belgium. When is it? Today - Sunday 24 June 2018. Where is it? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod. What time is kick-off? 1pm BST. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game What TV channel is it on? The BBC and ITV are sharing the rights to this World Cup. You can watch this one on BBC. Alternatively, you can follow all the action here with Telegraph Sport. Latest team news England Gareth Southgate is considering dropping Raheem Sterling against Panama, judging by a note spotted at England training. After the Three Lions sealed a last-gasp 2-1 win against Tunisia in Monday's World Cup opener, preparations are under way for Sunday's game in Nizhny Novgorod. England's players returned from a recovery day with a full session on Thursday morning, when focus on Southgate after dislocated a shoulder running was usurped by a note carried by assistant manager Steve Holland. Steve Holland, England Assistant Coach, with notes training notes Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS It showed that the side are preparing to play in 3-5-2 formation against Panama, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield following Dele Alli's slight thigh strain - a player whose name was spelt 'Ali' on the sheet in the medical section. The Tottenham man missed the session because of the injury he picked up against Tunisia. But the most noteworthy aspect of the pictured piece of paper was Marcus Rashford, rather than Sterling, playing in the attacking two alongside captain Harry Kane. Sterling, 23, has had to put up with a lot in the build-up to Russia and struggled to make an impact against Tunisia, with Southgate making the Manchester City forward his first change when bringing on Rashford in the 68th minute. England vs Tunisia Player ratings Panama The World Cup finals debutants have no injuries to report and Hernan Dario Gomez has a full-strength squad of relatively unknown but remarkably experienced players - the 24 men picked for the spring friendlies averaged 59 caps each - ready for Russia. What do we know about the Panama team? In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama make a first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the Concacaf Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the US has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: Coach Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. World Cup 2018 stadiums Goalkeepers Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. Defenders The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. World Cup predictor Midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. Forwards Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. What are they saying? Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival": "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticising and destroying the dream that we've achieved. "We have played Wales, who are more or less the same style (as England). We also played against Iran, who are like Tunisia. We have knowledge of what we'll come up against.” Latest Group G table What are the odds? England to win 1/5 Draw 4/1 Panama to win 12/1 What's our prediction? To avoid embarrassing defeats at the World Cup, Panama have experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. England have often struggled to break defensive teams down, but once the first goal goes in, expect the floodgates to open. Predicted score: England 4 Panama 0.
England vs Panama, World Cup 2018: What time is kick-off today, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
Guide to the best World Cup free bets and offers Betting guide: predictions and tips for England v Panama What is it? England's second Group G match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia is only hours away as they take on Panama. Gareth Southgate's side got off to a terrific start with a late 2-1 win over Tunisia, thanks to Harry Kane's double. Now it's on to Panama, before their final group game against Belgium. When is it? Today - Sunday 24 June 2018. Where is it? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod. What time is kick-off? 1pm BST. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game What TV channel is it on? The BBC and ITV are sharing the rights to this World Cup. You can watch this one on BBC. Alternatively, you can follow all the action here with Telegraph Sport. Latest team news England Gareth Southgate is considering dropping Raheem Sterling against Panama, judging by a note spotted at England training. After the Three Lions sealed a last-gasp 2-1 win against Tunisia in Monday's World Cup opener, preparations are under way for Sunday's game in Nizhny Novgorod. England's players returned from a recovery day with a full session on Thursday morning, when focus on Southgate after dislocated a shoulder running was usurped by a note carried by assistant manager Steve Holland. Steve Holland, England Assistant Coach, with notes training notes Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS It showed that the side are preparing to play in 3-5-2 formation against Panama, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield following Dele Alli's slight thigh strain - a player whose name was spelt 'Ali' on the sheet in the medical section. The Tottenham man missed the session because of the injury he picked up against Tunisia. But the most noteworthy aspect of the pictured piece of paper was Marcus Rashford, rather than Sterling, playing in the attacking two alongside captain Harry Kane. Sterling, 23, has had to put up with a lot in the build-up to Russia and struggled to make an impact against Tunisia, with Southgate making the Manchester City forward his first change when bringing on Rashford in the 68th minute. England vs Tunisia Player ratings Panama The World Cup finals debutants have no injuries to report and Hernan Dario Gomez has a full-strength squad of relatively unknown but remarkably experienced players - the 24 men picked for the spring friendlies averaged 59 caps each - ready for Russia. What do we know about the Panama team? In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama make a first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the Concacaf Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the US has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: Coach Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. World Cup 2018 stadiums Goalkeepers Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. Defenders The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. World Cup predictor Midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. Forwards Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. What are they saying? Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival": "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticising and destroying the dream that we've achieved. "We have played Wales, who are more or less the same style (as England). We also played against Iran, who are like Tunisia. We have knowledge of what we'll come up against.” Latest Group G table What are the odds? England to win 1/5 Draw 4/1 Panama to win 12/1 What's our prediction? To avoid embarrassing defeats at the World Cup, Panama have experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. England have often struggled to break defensive teams down, but once the first goal goes in, expect the floodgates to open. Predicted score: England 4 Panama 0.
Guide to the best World Cup free bets and offers Betting guide: predictions and tips for England v Panama What is it? England's second Group G match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia is only hours away as they take on Panama. Gareth Southgate's side got off to a terrific start with a late 2-1 win over Tunisia, thanks to Harry Kane's double. Now it's on to Panama, before their final group game against Belgium. When is it? Today - Sunday 24 June 2018. Where is it? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod. What time is kick-off? 1pm BST. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game What TV channel is it on? The BBC and ITV are sharing the rights to this World Cup. You can watch this one on BBC. Alternatively, you can follow all the action here with Telegraph Sport. Latest team news England Gareth Southgate is considering dropping Raheem Sterling against Panama, judging by a note spotted at England training. After the Three Lions sealed a last-gasp 2-1 win against Tunisia in Monday's World Cup opener, preparations are under way for Sunday's game in Nizhny Novgorod. England's players returned from a recovery day with a full session on Thursday morning, when focus on Southgate after dislocated a shoulder running was usurped by a note carried by assistant manager Steve Holland. Steve Holland, England Assistant Coach, with notes training notes Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS It showed that the side are preparing to play in 3-5-2 formation against Panama, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield following Dele Alli's slight thigh strain - a player whose name was spelt 'Ali' on the sheet in the medical section. The Tottenham man missed the session because of the injury he picked up against Tunisia. But the most noteworthy aspect of the pictured piece of paper was Marcus Rashford, rather than Sterling, playing in the attacking two alongside captain Harry Kane. Sterling, 23, has had to put up with a lot in the build-up to Russia and struggled to make an impact against Tunisia, with Southgate making the Manchester City forward his first change when bringing on Rashford in the 68th minute. England vs Tunisia Player ratings Panama The World Cup finals debutants have no injuries to report and Hernan Dario Gomez has a full-strength squad of relatively unknown but remarkably experienced players - the 24 men picked for the spring friendlies averaged 59 caps each - ready for Russia. What do we know about the Panama team? In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama make a first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the Concacaf Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the US has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: Coach Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. World Cup 2018 stadiums Goalkeepers Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. Defenders The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. World Cup predictor Midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. Forwards Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. What are they saying? Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival": "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticising and destroying the dream that we've achieved. "We have played Wales, who are more or less the same style (as England). We also played against Iran, who are like Tunisia. We have knowledge of what we'll come up against.” Latest Group G table What are the odds? England to win 1/5 Draw 4/1 Panama to win 12/1 What's our prediction? To avoid embarrassing defeats at the World Cup, Panama have experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. England have often struggled to break defensive teams down, but once the first goal goes in, expect the floodgates to open. Predicted score: England 4 Panama 0.
England vs Panama, World Cup 2018: What time is kick-off today, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
Guide to the best World Cup free bets and offers Betting guide: predictions and tips for England v Panama What is it? England's second Group G match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia is only hours away as they take on Panama. Gareth Southgate's side got off to a terrific start with a late 2-1 win over Tunisia, thanks to Harry Kane's double. Now it's on to Panama, before their final group game against Belgium. When is it? Today - Sunday 24 June 2018. Where is it? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod. What time is kick-off? 1pm BST. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game What TV channel is it on? The BBC and ITV are sharing the rights to this World Cup. You can watch this one on BBC. Alternatively, you can follow all the action here with Telegraph Sport. Latest team news England Gareth Southgate is considering dropping Raheem Sterling against Panama, judging by a note spotted at England training. After the Three Lions sealed a last-gasp 2-1 win against Tunisia in Monday's World Cup opener, preparations are under way for Sunday's game in Nizhny Novgorod. England's players returned from a recovery day with a full session on Thursday morning, when focus on Southgate after dislocated a shoulder running was usurped by a note carried by assistant manager Steve Holland. Steve Holland, England Assistant Coach, with notes training notes Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS It showed that the side are preparing to play in 3-5-2 formation against Panama, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield following Dele Alli's slight thigh strain - a player whose name was spelt 'Ali' on the sheet in the medical section. The Tottenham man missed the session because of the injury he picked up against Tunisia. But the most noteworthy aspect of the pictured piece of paper was Marcus Rashford, rather than Sterling, playing in the attacking two alongside captain Harry Kane. Sterling, 23, has had to put up with a lot in the build-up to Russia and struggled to make an impact against Tunisia, with Southgate making the Manchester City forward his first change when bringing on Rashford in the 68th minute. England vs Tunisia Player ratings Panama The World Cup finals debutants have no injuries to report and Hernan Dario Gomez has a full-strength squad of relatively unknown but remarkably experienced players - the 24 men picked for the spring friendlies averaged 59 caps each - ready for Russia. What do we know about the Panama team? In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama make a first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the Concacaf Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the US has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: Coach Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. World Cup 2018 stadiums Goalkeepers Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. Defenders The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. World Cup predictor Midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. Forwards Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. What are they saying? Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival": "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticising and destroying the dream that we've achieved. "We have played Wales, who are more or less the same style (as England). We also played against Iran, who are like Tunisia. We have knowledge of what we'll come up against.” Latest Group G table What are the odds? England to win 1/5 Draw 4/1 Panama to win 12/1 What's our prediction? To avoid embarrassing defeats at the World Cup, Panama have experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. England have often struggled to break defensive teams down, but once the first goal goes in, expect the floodgates to open. Predicted score: England 4 Panama 0.
Guide to the best World Cup free bets and offers Betting guide: predictions and tips for England v Panama What is it? England's second Group G match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia is only hours away as they take on Panama. Gareth Southgate's side got off to a terrific start with a late 2-1 win over Tunisia, thanks to Harry Kane's double. Now it's on to Panama, before their final group game against Belgium. When is it? Today - Sunday 24 June 2018. Where is it? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod. What time is kick-off? 1pm BST. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game What TV channel is it on? The BBC and ITV are sharing the rights to this World Cup. You can watch this one on BBC. Alternatively, you can follow all the action here with Telegraph Sport. Latest team news England Gareth Southgate is considering dropping Raheem Sterling against Panama, judging by a note spotted at England training. After the Three Lions sealed a last-gasp 2-1 win against Tunisia in Monday's World Cup opener, preparations are under way for Sunday's game in Nizhny Novgorod. England's players returned from a recovery day with a full session on Thursday morning, when focus on Southgate after dislocated a shoulder running was usurped by a note carried by assistant manager Steve Holland. Steve Holland, England Assistant Coach, with notes training notes Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS It showed that the side are preparing to play in 3-5-2 formation against Panama, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield following Dele Alli's slight thigh strain - a player whose name was spelt 'Ali' on the sheet in the medical section. The Tottenham man missed the session because of the injury he picked up against Tunisia. But the most noteworthy aspect of the pictured piece of paper was Marcus Rashford, rather than Sterling, playing in the attacking two alongside captain Harry Kane. Sterling, 23, has had to put up with a lot in the build-up to Russia and struggled to make an impact against Tunisia, with Southgate making the Manchester City forward his first change when bringing on Rashford in the 68th minute. England vs Tunisia Player ratings Panama The World Cup finals debutants have no injuries to report and Hernan Dario Gomez has a full-strength squad of relatively unknown but remarkably experienced players - the 24 men picked for the spring friendlies averaged 59 caps each - ready for Russia. What do we know about the Panama team? In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama make a first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the Concacaf Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the US has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: Coach Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. World Cup 2018 stadiums Goalkeepers Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. Defenders The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. World Cup predictor Midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. Forwards Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. What are they saying? Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival": "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticising and destroying the dream that we've achieved. "We have played Wales, who are more or less the same style (as England). We also played against Iran, who are like Tunisia. We have knowledge of what we'll come up against.” Latest Group G table What are the odds? England to win 1/5 Draw 4/1 Panama to win 12/1 What's our prediction? To avoid embarrassing defeats at the World Cup, Panama have experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. England have often struggled to break defensive teams down, but once the first goal goes in, expect the floodgates to open. Predicted score: England 4 Panama 0.
England vs Panama, World Cup 2018: What time is kick-off today, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
Guide to the best World Cup free bets and offers Betting guide: predictions and tips for England v Panama What is it? England's second Group G match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia is only hours away as they take on Panama. Gareth Southgate's side got off to a terrific start with a late 2-1 win over Tunisia, thanks to Harry Kane's double. Now it's on to Panama, before their final group game against Belgium. When is it? Today - Sunday 24 June 2018. Where is it? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod. What time is kick-off? 1pm BST. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game What TV channel is it on? The BBC and ITV are sharing the rights to this World Cup. You can watch this one on BBC. Alternatively, you can follow all the action here with Telegraph Sport. Latest team news England Gareth Southgate is considering dropping Raheem Sterling against Panama, judging by a note spotted at England training. After the Three Lions sealed a last-gasp 2-1 win against Tunisia in Monday's World Cup opener, preparations are under way for Sunday's game in Nizhny Novgorod. England's players returned from a recovery day with a full session on Thursday morning, when focus on Southgate after dislocated a shoulder running was usurped by a note carried by assistant manager Steve Holland. Steve Holland, England Assistant Coach, with notes training notes Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS It showed that the side are preparing to play in 3-5-2 formation against Panama, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield following Dele Alli's slight thigh strain - a player whose name was spelt 'Ali' on the sheet in the medical section. The Tottenham man missed the session because of the injury he picked up against Tunisia. But the most noteworthy aspect of the pictured piece of paper was Marcus Rashford, rather than Sterling, playing in the attacking two alongside captain Harry Kane. Sterling, 23, has had to put up with a lot in the build-up to Russia and struggled to make an impact against Tunisia, with Southgate making the Manchester City forward his first change when bringing on Rashford in the 68th minute. England vs Tunisia Player ratings Panama The World Cup finals debutants have no injuries to report and Hernan Dario Gomez has a full-strength squad of relatively unknown but remarkably experienced players - the 24 men picked for the spring friendlies averaged 59 caps each - ready for Russia. What do we know about the Panama team? In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama make a first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the Concacaf Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the US has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: Coach Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. World Cup 2018 stadiums Goalkeepers Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. Defenders The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. World Cup predictor Midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. Forwards Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. What are they saying? Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival": "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticising and destroying the dream that we've achieved. "We have played Wales, who are more or less the same style (as England). We also played against Iran, who are like Tunisia. We have knowledge of what we'll come up against.” Latest Group G table What are the odds? England to win 1/5 Draw 4/1 Panama to win 12/1 What's our prediction? To avoid embarrassing defeats at the World Cup, Panama have experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. England have often struggled to break defensive teams down, but once the first goal goes in, expect the floodgates to open. Predicted score: England 4 Panama 0.
What is it? England's second Group G match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia is only hours away as they take on Panama. Gareth Southgate's side got off to a terrific start with a late 2-1 win over Tunisia, thanks to Harry Kane's double. Now it's on to Panama, before their final group game against Belgium. When is it? Sunday 24 June 2018. Where is it? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod. What time is kick-off? 1pm BST. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game What TV channel is it on? The BBC and ITV are sharing the rights to this World Cup. You can watch this one on BBC. Alternatively, you can follow all the action here with Telegraph Sport. Latest team news England Gareth Southgate is considering dropping Raheem Sterling against Panama, judging by a note spotted at England training. After the Three Lions sealed a last-gasp 2-1 win against Tunisia in Monday's World Cup opener, preparations are under way for Sunday's game in Nizhny Novgorod. England's players returned from a recovery day with a full session on Thursday morning, when focus on Southgate after dislocated a shoulder running was usurped by a note carried by assistant manager Steve Holland. Steve Holland, England Assistant Coach, with notes training notes Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS It showed that the side are preparing to play in 3-5-2 formation against Panama, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield following Dele Alli's slight thigh strain - a player whose name was spelt 'Ali' on the sheet in the medical section. The Tottenham man missed the session because of the injury he picked up against Tunisia. But the most noteworthy aspect of the pictured piece of paper was Marcus Rashford, rather than Sterling, playing in the attacking two alongside captain Harry Kane. Sterling, 23, has had to put up with a lot in the build-up to Russia and struggled to make an impact against Tunisia, with Southgate making the Manchester City forward his first change when bringing on Rashford in the 68th minute. England vs Tunisia Player ratings Panama The World Cup finals debutants have no injuries to report and Hernan Dario Gomez has a full-strength squad of relatively unknown but remarkably experienced players - the 24 men picked for the spring friendlies averaged 59 caps each - ready for Russia. What do we know about the Panama team? In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama make a first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the Concacaf Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the US has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: Coach Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. World Cup 2018 stadiums Goalkeepers Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. Defenders The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. World Cup predictor Midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. Forwards Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. What are they saying? Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival": "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticising and destroying the dream that we've achieved. "We have played Wales, who are more or less the same style (as England). We also played against Iran, who are like Tunisia. We have knowledge of what we'll come up against.” Latest Group G table What are the odds? England to win 1/5 Draw 4/1 Panama to win 12/1 What's our prediction? To avoid embarrassing defeats at the World Cup, Panama have experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. England have often struggled to break defensive teams down, but once the first goal goes in, expect the floodgates to open. Predicted score: England 4 Panama 0.
England vs Panama, World Cup 2018: What time is kick-off tomorrow, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? England's second Group G match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia is only hours away as they take on Panama. Gareth Southgate's side got off to a terrific start with a late 2-1 win over Tunisia, thanks to Harry Kane's double. Now it's on to Panama, before their final group game against Belgium. When is it? Sunday 24 June 2018. Where is it? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod. What time is kick-off? 1pm BST. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game What TV channel is it on? The BBC and ITV are sharing the rights to this World Cup. You can watch this one on BBC. Alternatively, you can follow all the action here with Telegraph Sport. Latest team news England Gareth Southgate is considering dropping Raheem Sterling against Panama, judging by a note spotted at England training. After the Three Lions sealed a last-gasp 2-1 win against Tunisia in Monday's World Cup opener, preparations are under way for Sunday's game in Nizhny Novgorod. England's players returned from a recovery day with a full session on Thursday morning, when focus on Southgate after dislocated a shoulder running was usurped by a note carried by assistant manager Steve Holland. Steve Holland, England Assistant Coach, with notes training notes Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS It showed that the side are preparing to play in 3-5-2 formation against Panama, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield following Dele Alli's slight thigh strain - a player whose name was spelt 'Ali' on the sheet in the medical section. The Tottenham man missed the session because of the injury he picked up against Tunisia. But the most noteworthy aspect of the pictured piece of paper was Marcus Rashford, rather than Sterling, playing in the attacking two alongside captain Harry Kane. Sterling, 23, has had to put up with a lot in the build-up to Russia and struggled to make an impact against Tunisia, with Southgate making the Manchester City forward his first change when bringing on Rashford in the 68th minute. England vs Tunisia Player ratings Panama The World Cup finals debutants have no injuries to report and Hernan Dario Gomez has a full-strength squad of relatively unknown but remarkably experienced players - the 24 men picked for the spring friendlies averaged 59 caps each - ready for Russia. What do we know about the Panama team? In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama make a first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the Concacaf Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the US has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: Coach Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. World Cup 2018 stadiums Goalkeepers Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. Defenders The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. World Cup predictor Midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. Forwards Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. What are they saying? Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival": "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticising and destroying the dream that we've achieved. "We have played Wales, who are more or less the same style (as England). We also played against Iran, who are like Tunisia. We have knowledge of what we'll come up against.” Latest Group G table What are the odds? England to win 1/5 Draw 4/1 Panama to win 12/1 What's our prediction? To avoid embarrassing defeats at the World Cup, Panama have experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. England have often struggled to break defensive teams down, but once the first goal goes in, expect the floodgates to open. Predicted score: England 4 Panama 0.
Kieran Trippier, or the ‘Bury Beckham’ as he has been christened on social media, has always had a taste for the big occasion, an ability to elevate his level when the pressure is highest. He showed it on Monday night, when he was one of England’s standout performers in their opening World Cup match, and he showed it 11 years ago, in the Bury Schools’ Cup final. Different stages, certainly, but for a teenaged, shaven-headed Trippier, a final against the local school rivals was as important as anything. “He would take those games really seriously,” remembers Lee Garcka, Trippier’s PE teacher at Woodhey High School. “His family were watching, and those were the games when he really shone. He scored a hat-trick, and it was the best hat-trick I have ever seen from any player, at any level.” For his first goal, the 16-year-old Trippier ran from his own half, beating four defenders, and slotted the ball into the corner. The second was a volley from 35 yards, and the third was a curling effort from the edge of the box. At the time, Trippier was progressing through the ranks at Manchester City’s academy and was not even supposed to be playing school football. Garcka would often leave for games thinking that Trippier was training with City but then find him half a mile down the road, having rushed home from City, waiting for the school minibus to pick him up. Trippier with his school PE teacher Lee Garcka, who says he has always had the talent for the big occasions Credit: Lee Garcka Jim Cassell, the former youth academy director at City, was all too aware of a teenage Trippier’s appetite for simply playing as often as he could. “There was a period of time where the boys at the academy were stopped from playing for their school,” Cassell says. “But I knew that Kieran played, and I never bothered [trying to stop him] because he would play anywhere. I would go to watch my son playing 5-a-side, and Kieran would be there.” Trippier, the youngest of four brothers from the market town of Ramsbottom, had been scouted by Manchester United when he was eight years old, but joined City soon after. “The thing I remember was that, even as a nine-year-old, Kieran was an absolutely beautiful striker of the ball,” Cassell says. “I would say he is probably England’s best crosser since David Beckham. He was also a chirpy character, which is what you want to see in kids.” As he grew older, still shining at City, that “chirpiness” threatened to become a problem. At the age of 14 or 15, Garcka says Trippier had developed a “bit of an edge”, and there was concern that he might turn down the wrong path. Pick your England XI to face Panama He was helped by the close mentoring of the school’s former headteacher, Martin Braidley, and by Cassell. “We lived near each other,” Cassell says, “so I used to give him a lift home. I would constantly tell him: ‘Kieran, if you live right you will make it, big-time.’” The message sunk in, and Trippier matured in his final years of school as he continued to hone his natural ability at City. He was part of the City team which won the FA Youth Cup in 2008 and in 2010, aged 19, was loaned to Barnsley for his first experience of adult football. The early impressions were good. Trippier arrived with confidence, which bordered on cockiness, and also with resilience. “He was a young kid at the time but he went straight into the team,” says David Preece, the former Barnsley goalkeeper. “He is one of the best players I have ever seen at crossing the ball on the run — that’s the one thing that really stood out.” Preece, who changed next to Trippier in the dressing room, used to joke that the slender lad alongside him looked like Stewie Griffin, the cartoon baby from comedy series Family Guy, but there were no issues with physical robustness. “He was tough,” Preece says. “He was never a pushover.” England's team leak is embarrassing for all involved Trippier’s excellent performances, including a penchant for scoring free-kicks, earned him a move to Burnley, where the arrival of Sean Dyche added defensive solidity to his more obvious technical talents. Trippier’s gratitude to his former manager was evident in December, when he was spotted at the darts with a sign saying ‘Ginger Mourinho = Sean Dyche’. Trippier’s £3.5 million move to Tottenham Hotspur, in 2015, remains one of the best Premier League bargains in recent years. Under Mauricio Pochettino, and particularly following the departure of Kyle Walker to City last summer, he has become more consistent and more creative. He adapted again, and then adapted to England, where a wing-back role clearly suits his abilities. “Every time he has to step up, he has been able to do it,” Garcka says. “He has done it again and again. Each time he is asked to go up a level, he meets that challenge.” World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Kieran Trippier has always been able to step up when it matters - it's no different with England, says former teacher
Kieran Trippier, or the ‘Bury Beckham’ as he has been christened on social media, has always had a taste for the big occasion, an ability to elevate his level when the pressure is highest. He showed it on Monday night, when he was one of England’s standout performers in their opening World Cup match, and he showed it 11 years ago, in the Bury Schools’ Cup final. Different stages, certainly, but for a teenaged, shaven-headed Trippier, a final against the local school rivals was as important as anything. “He would take those games really seriously,” remembers Lee Garcka, Trippier’s PE teacher at Woodhey High School. “His family were watching, and those were the games when he really shone. He scored a hat-trick, and it was the best hat-trick I have ever seen from any player, at any level.” For his first goal, the 16-year-old Trippier ran from his own half, beating four defenders, and slotted the ball into the corner. The second was a volley from 35 yards, and the third was a curling effort from the edge of the box. At the time, Trippier was progressing through the ranks at Manchester City’s academy and was not even supposed to be playing school football. Garcka would often leave for games thinking that Trippier was training with City but then find him half a mile down the road, having rushed home from City, waiting for the school minibus to pick him up. Trippier with his school PE teacher Lee Garcka, who says he has always had the talent for the big occasions Credit: Lee Garcka Jim Cassell, the former youth academy director at City, was all too aware of a teenage Trippier’s appetite for simply playing as often as he could. “There was a period of time where the boys at the academy were stopped from playing for their school,” Cassell says. “But I knew that Kieran played, and I never bothered [trying to stop him] because he would play anywhere. I would go to watch my son playing 5-a-side, and Kieran would be there.” Trippier, the youngest of four brothers from the market town of Ramsbottom, had been scouted by Manchester United when he was eight years old, but joined City soon after. “The thing I remember was that, even as a nine-year-old, Kieran was an absolutely beautiful striker of the ball,” Cassell says. “I would say he is probably England’s best crosser since David Beckham. He was also a chirpy character, which is what you want to see in kids.” As he grew older, still shining at City, that “chirpiness” threatened to become a problem. At the age of 14 or 15, Garcka says Trippier had developed a “bit of an edge”, and there was concern that he might turn down the wrong path. Pick your England XI to face Panama He was helped by the close mentoring of the school’s former headteacher, Martin Braidley, and by Cassell. “We lived near each other,” Cassell says, “so I used to give him a lift home. I would constantly tell him: ‘Kieran, if you live right you will make it, big-time.’” The message sunk in, and Trippier matured in his final years of school as he continued to hone his natural ability at City. He was part of the City team which won the FA Youth Cup in 2008 and in 2010, aged 19, was loaned to Barnsley for his first experience of adult football. The early impressions were good. Trippier arrived with confidence, which bordered on cockiness, and also with resilience. “He was a young kid at the time but he went straight into the team,” says David Preece, the former Barnsley goalkeeper. “He is one of the best players I have ever seen at crossing the ball on the run — that’s the one thing that really stood out.” Preece, who changed next to Trippier in the dressing room, used to joke that the slender lad alongside him looked like Stewie Griffin, the cartoon baby from comedy series Family Guy, but there were no issues with physical robustness. “He was tough,” Preece says. “He was never a pushover.” England's team leak is embarrassing for all involved Trippier’s excellent performances, including a penchant for scoring free-kicks, earned him a move to Burnley, where the arrival of Sean Dyche added defensive solidity to his more obvious technical talents. Trippier’s gratitude to his former manager was evident in December, when he was spotted at the darts with a sign saying ‘Ginger Mourinho = Sean Dyche’. Trippier’s £3.5 million move to Tottenham Hotspur, in 2015, remains one of the best Premier League bargains in recent years. Under Mauricio Pochettino, and particularly following the departure of Kyle Walker to City last summer, he has become more consistent and more creative. He adapted again, and then adapted to England, where a wing-back role clearly suits his abilities. “Every time he has to step up, he has been able to do it,” Garcka says. “He has done it again and again. Each time he is asked to go up a level, he meets that challenge.” World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Kieran Trippier, or the ‘Bury Beckham’ as he has been christened on social media, has always had a taste for the big occasion, an ability to elevate his level when the pressure is highest. He showed it on Monday night, when he was one of England’s standout performers in their opening World Cup match, and he showed it 11 years ago, in the Bury Schools’ Cup final. Different stages, certainly, but for a teenaged, shaven-headed Trippier, a final against the local school rivals was as important as anything. “He would take those games really seriously,” remembers Lee Garcka, Trippier’s PE teacher at Woodhey High School. “His family were watching, and those were the games when he really shone. He scored a hat-trick, and it was the best hat-trick I have ever seen from any player, at any level.” For his first goal, the 16-year-old Trippier ran from his own half, beating four defenders, and slotted the ball into the corner. The second was a volley from 35 yards, and the third was a curling effort from the edge of the box. At the time, Trippier was progressing through the ranks at Manchester City’s academy and was not even supposed to be playing school football. Garcka would often leave for games thinking that Trippier was training with City but then find him half a mile down the road, having rushed home from City, waiting for the school minibus to pick him up. Trippier with his school PE teacher Lee Garcka, who says he has always had the talent for the big occasions Credit: Lee Garcka Jim Cassell, the former youth academy director at City, was all too aware of a teenage Trippier’s appetite for simply playing as often as he could. “There was a period of time where the boys at the academy were stopped from playing for their school,” Cassell says. “But I knew that Kieran played, and I never bothered [trying to stop him] because he would play anywhere. I would go to watch my son playing 5-a-side, and Kieran would be there.” Trippier, the youngest of four brothers from the market town of Ramsbottom, had been scouted by Manchester United when he was eight years old, but joined City soon after. “The thing I remember was that, even as a nine-year-old, Kieran was an absolutely beautiful striker of the ball,” Cassell says. “I would say he is probably England’s best crosser since David Beckham. He was also a chirpy character, which is what you want to see in kids.” As he grew older, still shining at City, that “chirpiness” threatened to become a problem. At the age of 14 or 15, Garcka says Trippier had developed a “bit of an edge”, and there was concern that he might turn down the wrong path. Pick your England XI to face Panama He was helped by the close mentoring of the school’s former headteacher, Martin Braidley, and by Cassell. “We lived near each other,” Cassell says, “so I used to give him a lift home. I would constantly tell him: ‘Kieran, if you live right you will make it, big-time.’” The message sunk in, and Trippier matured in his final years of school as he continued to hone his natural ability at City. He was part of the City team which won the FA Youth Cup in 2008 and in 2010, aged 19, was loaned to Barnsley for his first experience of adult football. The early impressions were good. Trippier arrived with confidence, which bordered on cockiness, and also with resilience. “He was a young kid at the time but he went straight into the team,” says David Preece, the former Barnsley goalkeeper. “He is one of the best players I have ever seen at crossing the ball on the run — that’s the one thing that really stood out.” Preece, who changed next to Trippier in the dressing room, used to joke that the slender lad alongside him looked like Stewie Griffin, the cartoon baby from comedy series Family Guy, but there were no issues with physical robustness. “He was tough,” Preece says. “He was never a pushover.” England's team leak is embarrassing for all involved Trippier’s excellent performances, including a penchant for scoring free-kicks, earned him a move to Burnley, where the arrival of Sean Dyche added defensive solidity to his more obvious technical talents. Trippier’s gratitude to his former manager was evident in December, when he was spotted at the darts with a sign saying ‘Ginger Mourinho = Sean Dyche’. Trippier’s £3.5 million move to Tottenham Hotspur, in 2015, remains one of the best Premier League bargains in recent years. Under Mauricio Pochettino, and particularly following the departure of Kyle Walker to City last summer, he has become more consistent and more creative. He adapted again, and then adapted to England, where a wing-back role clearly suits his abilities. “Every time he has to step up, he has been able to do it,” Garcka says. “He has done it again and again. Each time he is asked to go up a level, he meets that challenge.” World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Kieran Trippier has always been able to step up when it matters - it's no different with England, says former teacher
Kieran Trippier, or the ‘Bury Beckham’ as he has been christened on social media, has always had a taste for the big occasion, an ability to elevate his level when the pressure is highest. He showed it on Monday night, when he was one of England’s standout performers in their opening World Cup match, and he showed it 11 years ago, in the Bury Schools’ Cup final. Different stages, certainly, but for a teenaged, shaven-headed Trippier, a final against the local school rivals was as important as anything. “He would take those games really seriously,” remembers Lee Garcka, Trippier’s PE teacher at Woodhey High School. “His family were watching, and those were the games when he really shone. He scored a hat-trick, and it was the best hat-trick I have ever seen from any player, at any level.” For his first goal, the 16-year-old Trippier ran from his own half, beating four defenders, and slotted the ball into the corner. The second was a volley from 35 yards, and the third was a curling effort from the edge of the box. At the time, Trippier was progressing through the ranks at Manchester City’s academy and was not even supposed to be playing school football. Garcka would often leave for games thinking that Trippier was training with City but then find him half a mile down the road, having rushed home from City, waiting for the school minibus to pick him up. Trippier with his school PE teacher Lee Garcka, who says he has always had the talent for the big occasions Credit: Lee Garcka Jim Cassell, the former youth academy director at City, was all too aware of a teenage Trippier’s appetite for simply playing as often as he could. “There was a period of time where the boys at the academy were stopped from playing for their school,” Cassell says. “But I knew that Kieran played, and I never bothered [trying to stop him] because he would play anywhere. I would go to watch my son playing 5-a-side, and Kieran would be there.” Trippier, the youngest of four brothers from the market town of Ramsbottom, had been scouted by Manchester United when he was eight years old, but joined City soon after. “The thing I remember was that, even as a nine-year-old, Kieran was an absolutely beautiful striker of the ball,” Cassell says. “I would say he is probably England’s best crosser since David Beckham. He was also a chirpy character, which is what you want to see in kids.” As he grew older, still shining at City, that “chirpiness” threatened to become a problem. At the age of 14 or 15, Garcka says Trippier had developed a “bit of an edge”, and there was concern that he might turn down the wrong path. Pick your England XI to face Panama He was helped by the close mentoring of the school’s former headteacher, Martin Braidley, and by Cassell. “We lived near each other,” Cassell says, “so I used to give him a lift home. I would constantly tell him: ‘Kieran, if you live right you will make it, big-time.’” The message sunk in, and Trippier matured in his final years of school as he continued to hone his natural ability at City. He was part of the City team which won the FA Youth Cup in 2008 and in 2010, aged 19, was loaned to Barnsley for his first experience of adult football. The early impressions were good. Trippier arrived with confidence, which bordered on cockiness, and also with resilience. “He was a young kid at the time but he went straight into the team,” says David Preece, the former Barnsley goalkeeper. “He is one of the best players I have ever seen at crossing the ball on the run — that’s the one thing that really stood out.” Preece, who changed next to Trippier in the dressing room, used to joke that the slender lad alongside him looked like Stewie Griffin, the cartoon baby from comedy series Family Guy, but there were no issues with physical robustness. “He was tough,” Preece says. “He was never a pushover.” England's team leak is embarrassing for all involved Trippier’s excellent performances, including a penchant for scoring free-kicks, earned him a move to Burnley, where the arrival of Sean Dyche added defensive solidity to his more obvious technical talents. Trippier’s gratitude to his former manager was evident in December, when he was spotted at the darts with a sign saying ‘Ginger Mourinho = Sean Dyche’. Trippier’s £3.5 million move to Tottenham Hotspur, in 2015, remains one of the best Premier League bargains in recent years. Under Mauricio Pochettino, and particularly following the departure of Kyle Walker to City last summer, he has become more consistent and more creative. He adapted again, and then adapted to England, where a wing-back role clearly suits his abilities. “Every time he has to step up, he has been able to do it,” Garcka says. “He has done it again and again. Each time he is asked to go up a level, he meets that challenge.” World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Neymar’s melodramatic display in Brazil’s win over Costa Rica was defended by his captain, Thiago Silva, who said the team’s superstar wept at the end because he has “worked so hard” to return from injury. “He was crying on the pitch. I told him to get it all out, because he's been carrying a lot of weight,” Thiago said, “It's not easy to go three months without playing, but people don't understand that. They keep criticising, hammering him. He's got great character, because it’s not everyone who takes on the responsibility he has today. “He deserved his goal and we deserved the win. I think he has [been criticised]. It's tough for us to fight against those who have the microphone. We try and respond on the pitch, playing as well as possible, and dedicating ourselves on the training ground. That kid has worked so hard to get here. It's only the second time he's played 90 minutes after three months out, so of course he's feeling it.” Argentina’s heavy defeat to Croatia was a warning to Brazil, who used it to inspire their own win over Costa Rica the next day, according to Willian, the Chelsea midfielder. “I think what happened on Thursday night in the Argentina game helped us to come to this game more concentrated, more focused to win this game,” Willian said after stoppage time goals by Philippe Coutinho and Neymar gave the tournament favourites their first win in Russia. “We will be like that now until the end of the World Cup. We have to be ready because the games will not be easy. To win in this way is very emotional.” Big brand | Neymar's 27 official endorsements Willian also spoke of Neymar’s contribution and crying after the final whistle. “The guys were emotional after the game and that’s why he cried because it was a difficult game,” he said. He also paid tribute to Coutinho, Brazil’s best player in Saint-Petersburg: “He is an unbelievable player. A fantastic player. I am happy because he plays for Brazil. I was happy for him because he scored his first goals for us. I think when he played at Liverpool he was this player. But I think in football we have to improve and I think he is doing that. He has improved a lot.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Gabriel Jesus, the Manchester City striker, claimed Brazil’s shaky first-half was down to Costa Rican tactics. He said: “We know that when the teams come to Brazil, they always play very closed. To win, we need to play in a clever way. It starts from the back, with Alisson [the goalkeeper] coming out with his feet, the defence working the ball through the middle and the attack to follow on that work. We know it will be complicated.” Brazil complete their group campaign against Serbia. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Brazil team-mates defend Neymar after his on-pitch theatrics draw criticism
Neymar’s melodramatic display in Brazil’s win over Costa Rica was defended by his captain, Thiago Silva, who said the team’s superstar wept at the end because he has “worked so hard” to return from injury. “He was crying on the pitch. I told him to get it all out, because he's been carrying a lot of weight,” Thiago said, “It's not easy to go three months without playing, but people don't understand that. They keep criticising, hammering him. He's got great character, because it’s not everyone who takes on the responsibility he has today. “He deserved his goal and we deserved the win. I think he has [been criticised]. It's tough for us to fight against those who have the microphone. We try and respond on the pitch, playing as well as possible, and dedicating ourselves on the training ground. That kid has worked so hard to get here. It's only the second time he's played 90 minutes after three months out, so of course he's feeling it.” Argentina’s heavy defeat to Croatia was a warning to Brazil, who used it to inspire their own win over Costa Rica the next day, according to Willian, the Chelsea midfielder. “I think what happened on Thursday night in the Argentina game helped us to come to this game more concentrated, more focused to win this game,” Willian said after stoppage time goals by Philippe Coutinho and Neymar gave the tournament favourites their first win in Russia. “We will be like that now until the end of the World Cup. We have to be ready because the games will not be easy. To win in this way is very emotional.” Big brand | Neymar's 27 official endorsements Willian also spoke of Neymar’s contribution and crying after the final whistle. “The guys were emotional after the game and that’s why he cried because it was a difficult game,” he said. He also paid tribute to Coutinho, Brazil’s best player in Saint-Petersburg: “He is an unbelievable player. A fantastic player. I am happy because he plays for Brazil. I was happy for him because he scored his first goals for us. I think when he played at Liverpool he was this player. But I think in football we have to improve and I think he is doing that. He has improved a lot.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Gabriel Jesus, the Manchester City striker, claimed Brazil’s shaky first-half was down to Costa Rican tactics. He said: “We know that when the teams come to Brazil, they always play very closed. To win, we need to play in a clever way. It starts from the back, with Alisson [the goalkeeper] coming out with his feet, the defence working the ball through the middle and the attack to follow on that work. We know it will be complicated.” Brazil complete their group campaign against Serbia. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Liverpool are looking to break the bank for Spain's rising superstar while Manchester City are making great strides in the transfer market. Justin Kluivert has finally parted ways with Ajax while Arsenal have identified veteran Argentine mid-fielder as a primary target. Here are the top transfer rumors from today's European papers.
Football Transfers: Liverpool want Real Madrid's rising star
Liverpool are looking to break the bank for Spain's rising superstar while Manchester City are making great strides in the transfer market. Justin Kluivert has finally parted ways with Ajax while Arsenal have identified veteran Argentine mid-fielder as a primary target. Here are the top transfer rumors from today's European papers.
Joachim Low's decision to leave the Manchester City winger of his squad for the World Cup is now looking even more ill-advised after defeat by Mexico
No pace, no dribbling - slow Germany desperately miss Sane’s speed and trickery
Joachim Low's decision to leave the Manchester City winger of his squad for the World Cup is now looking even more ill-advised after defeat by Mexico
Joachim Low's decision to leave the Manchester City winger of his squad for the World Cup is now looking even more ill-advised after defeat by Mexico
No pace, no dribbling - slow Germany desperately miss Sane’s speed and trickery
Joachim Low's decision to leave the Manchester City winger of his squad for the World Cup is now looking even more ill-advised after defeat by Mexico
Guide to the best World Cup free bets and offers What is it? The second round of matches is underway as Germany take on Sweden in Group F. The much-fancied Germans were stunned in their opening game, going down 1-0 to Mexico, so a win against the Swedes is vital if they are to qualify from the group stages. Sweden got their campaign up and running with a 1-0 win over South Korea. And a win for Janne Andersson's side could see reigning world champions Germany exit the World Cup after the first round for the first time in 80 years. When is it? It's today, so Saturday, June 23. What time is kick-off? 7pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? ITV 1. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. Where is the game being played? Fisht Stadium, Sochi. World Cup 2018 stadium: Fisht Stadium What is the team news? There's been significant debate about the role of Marco Reus and whether he should be starting for Germany. Reus came on in the 60th minute against Mexico and Germany's attack was notably better once he got involved. But Reus has suffered significant injuries the past few seasons, none bigger than a knee injury that caused him to miss more than half of last season with Dortmund. "I really have no say in this. All I can do is make is as hard as possible for them to do without me," Reus said. "I try and give my all in training, offer myself and do hope of course I'll be picked in order to help Germany get out of the group." World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game The squads in full: Germany Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (Paris St Germain). Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Antonio Ruediger (Chelsea), Niklas Suele (Bayern Munich). Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Paris St Germain), Leon Goretzka (Schalke 04), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal). Forwards: Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig). ----- Sweden Robin Olsen, Karl-Johan Johnsson, Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Mikael Lustig, Victor Lindelof, Andreas Granqvist, Martin Olsson, Ludwig Augustinsson, Filip Helander, Emil Krafth, Pontus Jansson, Sebastian Larsson, Albin Ekdal, Emil Forsberg, Gustav Svensson, Oscar Hiljemark, Viktor Claesson, Marcus Rohden, Jimmy Durmaz, Marcus Berg, John Guidetti, Ola Toivonen, Isaac Kiese Thelin. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more What's the latest news? Sweden's World Cup clash with Germany in Sochi on Saturday will carry extra sporting spice for their defender Martin Olsson because his sister is married to top German basketball player Dirk Nowitzki. As soon as the draw was made the full-back's phone started buzzing with messages from his brother-in-law, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA on the other side of the Atlantic. "He's a big football fan, so there's a lot of football talk in the family," Olsson said. "We have a family chat on WhatsApp so there's been a good bit of banter. He probably wants Germany to win but it hasn't got serious yet, before the game starts it probably will." Sweden outlasted Holland to advance in World Cup qualifying. When the Swedes got to the European play-off round and a chance to reach Russia, they methodically eliminated past champion Italy over two games. At this point, why not knock out another high-profile team - and the pre-tournament favourites at that? If that were to happen, it would be the second consecutive World Cup where the defending champion have been knocked out of contention before the knockout stage. test - do not delete "We need to dare to do even more," Sweden coach Janne Andersson said after beating South Korea 1-0 in its opener. Beating Germany would certainly throw even more chaos into an already unpredictable World Cup. Sweden will find a wounded Germany line-up trying to rebound from a 1-0 loss to Mexico in the opener where they were thoroughly outplayed. It was the first time since 1982 that a German team lost its opening match at the World Cup. And immediately questions followed about the state of the squad. What stood out in the loss to Mexico was Germany's susceptibility to the counter attack and the number of scoring opportunities allowed. "Against Sweden it will be a different set-up. Sweden has different strengths and weaknesses compared to Mexico," Thomas Mueller said. "I don't expect them to be as fantastically gifted when it comes to transitions as the Mexicans, but having said that they have some players that can hurt us on the offensive." test - do not delete What are the odds? Germany to win - 4/9 Draw - 7/2 Sweden to win - 8/1 What's our prediction? Germany and Sweden haven't met since qualifying for the 2014 World Cup when they were in the same group. The teams played out a 4-4 draw in Berlin, before Germany earned a 5-3 win in Sweden on Oct 15, 2013. Another goalfest would be just what this tournament needs. Prediction: Germany 3 Sweden 2 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018, Germany vs Sweden: What time is kick-off today, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
Guide to the best World Cup free bets and offers What is it? The second round of matches is underway as Germany take on Sweden in Group F. The much-fancied Germans were stunned in their opening game, going down 1-0 to Mexico, so a win against the Swedes is vital if they are to qualify from the group stages. Sweden got their campaign up and running with a 1-0 win over South Korea. And a win for Janne Andersson's side could see reigning world champions Germany exit the World Cup after the first round for the first time in 80 years. When is it? It's today, so Saturday, June 23. What time is kick-off? 7pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? ITV 1. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. Where is the game being played? Fisht Stadium, Sochi. World Cup 2018 stadium: Fisht Stadium What is the team news? There's been significant debate about the role of Marco Reus and whether he should be starting for Germany. Reus came on in the 60th minute against Mexico and Germany's attack was notably better once he got involved. But Reus has suffered significant injuries the past few seasons, none bigger than a knee injury that caused him to miss more than half of last season with Dortmund. "I really have no say in this. All I can do is make is as hard as possible for them to do without me," Reus said. "I try and give my all in training, offer myself and do hope of course I'll be picked in order to help Germany get out of the group." World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game The squads in full: Germany Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (Paris St Germain). Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Antonio Ruediger (Chelsea), Niklas Suele (Bayern Munich). Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Paris St Germain), Leon Goretzka (Schalke 04), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal). Forwards: Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig). ----- Sweden Robin Olsen, Karl-Johan Johnsson, Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Mikael Lustig, Victor Lindelof, Andreas Granqvist, Martin Olsson, Ludwig Augustinsson, Filip Helander, Emil Krafth, Pontus Jansson, Sebastian Larsson, Albin Ekdal, Emil Forsberg, Gustav Svensson, Oscar Hiljemark, Viktor Claesson, Marcus Rohden, Jimmy Durmaz, Marcus Berg, John Guidetti, Ola Toivonen, Isaac Kiese Thelin. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more What's the latest news? Sweden's World Cup clash with Germany in Sochi on Saturday will carry extra sporting spice for their defender Martin Olsson because his sister is married to top German basketball player Dirk Nowitzki. As soon as the draw was made the full-back's phone started buzzing with messages from his brother-in-law, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA on the other side of the Atlantic. "He's a big football fan, so there's a lot of football talk in the family," Olsson said. "We have a family chat on WhatsApp so there's been a good bit of banter. He probably wants Germany to win but it hasn't got serious yet, before the game starts it probably will." Sweden outlasted Holland to advance in World Cup qualifying. When the Swedes got to the European play-off round and a chance to reach Russia, they methodically eliminated past champion Italy over two games. At this point, why not knock out another high-profile team - and the pre-tournament favourites at that? If that were to happen, it would be the second consecutive World Cup where the defending champion have been knocked out of contention before the knockout stage. test - do not delete "We need to dare to do even more," Sweden coach Janne Andersson said after beating South Korea 1-0 in its opener. Beating Germany would certainly throw even more chaos into an already unpredictable World Cup. Sweden will find a wounded Germany line-up trying to rebound from a 1-0 loss to Mexico in the opener where they were thoroughly outplayed. It was the first time since 1982 that a German team lost its opening match at the World Cup. And immediately questions followed about the state of the squad. What stood out in the loss to Mexico was Germany's susceptibility to the counter attack and the number of scoring opportunities allowed. "Against Sweden it will be a different set-up. Sweden has different strengths and weaknesses compared to Mexico," Thomas Mueller said. "I don't expect them to be as fantastically gifted when it comes to transitions as the Mexicans, but having said that they have some players that can hurt us on the offensive." test - do not delete What are the odds? Germany to win - 4/9 Draw - 7/2 Sweden to win - 8/1 What's our prediction? Germany and Sweden haven't met since qualifying for the 2014 World Cup when they were in the same group. The teams played out a 4-4 draw in Berlin, before Germany earned a 5-3 win in Sweden on Oct 15, 2013. Another goalfest would be just what this tournament needs. Prediction: Germany 3 Sweden 2 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
The official time for Neymar’s goal – Brazil’s second – was 96min 49sec: a suitably melodramatic end to a whole box set of moaning, poor control, diving, brilliant tricks and crying after the final whistle. A game that was really about the ­tournament favourites finding their feet in Russia will be remembered for Neymar’s epic vanity. Philippe Coutinho was Brazil’s best player by a wide margin in a win over Costa Rica that saved Tite’s side from sliding into Argentina territory. Coutinho scored Brazil’s breakthrough stoppage-time goal – a strike so precious that Tite fell over himself while running to rejoice. “I pulled a muscle. I’m limping after the celebrations,” he said. But Coutinho will not take top billing in reports. Instead, Brazil’s players conspired in Neymar’s need to be front, centre and back in dispatches. Secretly they must think him a terrible thespian, but go along with it because it creates emotional momentum, or perhaps allows them to go about their own work in peace. Whatever: this ­victory may have been the start of Brazil’s march to the title. Neymar’s backwards-fall, though, after Giancarlo Gonzalez had touched his chest, was lamentable. Without video technology, and the referee’s willingness to review and overturn his decision to award a penalty against Costa Rica, Brazil’s win would have been overshadowed by a deception scandal. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Other notable features of Neymar’s day were him being booked for throwing the ball down, dropping to his knees after his goal (a tap-in) and being cuddled by his team-mates at the end, as if he had been through some personal trauma. Not forgetting his glorious double heel-flick over Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda – revenge for the rough treatment the claimed to have endured. In a nutshell, Neymar is working his way back from injury and spent most of this match searching for his usual touch and accuracy. He spent much of the rest of it on the floor. Fouled 10 times by Switzerland in the opening fixture, he again ran up against strong tackling by Costa Rica. Or, so he wanted us to believe, as he pursued the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, at half-time to enumerate the crimes committed against him. Coutinho was content to go along with the script. “We know he [Neymar] had a difficult injury and went through a very hard patch,” the ­former Liverpool midfielder said. “His joy of being back on the pitch is contagious. Everyone is so happy him being back and scoring. “The most important was not giving up till the last minute, which the professor [coach] always emphasises, being mentally strong. We know the responsibility is huge. We fought till the end.” Tite agreed. “If it takes 97 minutes to decide the game, that’s the mental focus required,” he said. He called the second half “beautiful,” adding: “At half-time, I was joking ‘look at the old man here, 57 [years old]’. Pass the ball.” Tite has gambled his credibility on Neymar’s comeback from a foot injury, but will feel vindicated by this outcome. There was an ominous gelling of Brazil’s talents in the last half-hour. “You can’t put all the responsibility on one player,” Tite said. “He was out 3½ months and he played the full match [as he did against Switzerland]. He’s a human being. He needs some time to resume his high standard but, before he does that, there is a team which has to be strong and not dependent on him. Will he reach his best? Of course, he will reach his best.” Brazil’s manager was not disputing the video-assistant-referee review: “I watched the play. If I was the referee I would not go back, but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation. “We don’t need referees to win the game, we just want it to be fair. To me it was a penalty. But we don’t want any help. We don’t need any help, the players don’t need help, I don’t want help. We want to be more competent.” Brazil are now unbeaten in 13 games and have conceded only three times in that run. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 international appearances and contributed 10 goals and eight assists in his past 17 outings – hence Tite’s loyalty. How to predict a World Cup winner A gripe around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has emerged. Brazil have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late double-hit has calmed their nerves. Their ability to summon Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa from the bench confirmed the depth of their arsenal. And who, at Manchester City, would believe Fernandinho, the Premier League’s best holding midfielder, is unable to claim a starting spot ahead of Paulinho and Casemiro? But Neymar’s place is more secure than music is in the Brazilian public’s heart. Costa Rica, of course, denied any ill-intent. Oscar Ramirez, their coach, said: “We know he had problems with an injury but we never tried to hurt him. We tried to stop him fairly.” Tears flowed, beside the Gulf of Finland, as Neymar poured his ­feelings out in the centre circle. Tite said: “I didn’t see this, but one thing I can tell you – the joy, satisfaction and pride in representing Brazil is a lot. He has the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. Everybody shows it in different ways.” Neymar shows it in every way. He never used to be like this, but fame changes people. It can them into drama addicts. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
The Manchester City winger enjoyed his most prolific season to date but has been the target of negative headlines from sections of the tabloid press
'They want to steal your joy and pull you down' - England star Sterling hits out at tabloid press
The Manchester City winger enjoyed his most prolific season to date but has been the target of negative headlines from sections of the tabloid press
Raheem Sterling said that despite Manchester City's historic Premier League winning season, his daughter only cares about his old team.
Sterling: my daughter is Liverpool through and through!
Raheem Sterling said that despite Manchester City's historic Premier League winning season, his daughter only cares about his old team.
To captain your national side at a World Cup is the greatest honour available to a footballer, but one with its challenges. While the world scrutinises your every move you must be diplomatic, in control, and above everything else you have to perform. It's where knighthoods are earned, statues are built, and BBC Sports Personality of the year awards are won and lost. Thirty-two players think they're up for it this time around, and of course, they must be ranked. We've looked at leadership, legacy, and sometimes even their skill with a football. Here they are, in all their armband-wearing glory. 32. No captain (Brazil) Brazil's Marcelo captained his side during their opening match at the 2018 Russia World Cup Credit: Michael Regan/FIFA After Neymar renounced the captaincy in 2016, manager Tite decided not to appoint a permanent captain, choosing instead to rotate the responsibility around his team. Nice idea Tite, but we're not buying it, and someone has to come last. 31. Whabi Khazri (Tunisia) Wahbi Khazri in training ahead of Tunisia's opener against England Credit: Albert Gea/Reuters Played for Sunderland during their Premiership relegation season, and became known for running around aimlessly for 10 minutes before coasting to the final whistle. Assumes on-field captaincy duties for Tunisia and at 27 years old there's still time for Khazri to make a name for himself. 30. Ki Sung-yeung (South Korea) Ki Sung-yeung reacts to his sides loss in their opener against Sweden Credit: Johannes Eisele/AFP The 2015 Swansea City player of the year comes to Russia without a club after leaving the Welsh side following their relegation to the Championship. Do South Korea have to win the World Cup for him to stay? Doesn't look good after an opening loss to Sweden. 29. John Obi Mikel (Nigeria) John Obi Mikel gives a news conference before their World Cup opening match against Croatia Credit: Vitaly Nevar/Getty Images It feels like John Obi Mikel has been around forever, but remember any of his performances during those 11 years at Chelsea? How good was he against Croatia? Was he there? He's captain, apparently. 28. Hugo Lloris (France) France captain Hugo Lloris during a press conference ahead of their World Cup opener against Australia - All 32 captains at the 2018 Russia World Cup ranked Credit: Sergei Bobylev/Getty Images France have three of the four most expensive players of all time, and with more depth than Manchester City's pockets they are rightfully one of the favourites in Russia. But Hugo Lloris, who looks like he's physically incapable of raising his voice, takes the captaincy. We can only assume it's because he's the least likely player to lead another French rebellion a la 2010. 27. Manuel Neuer (Germany) Germany captain Manuel Neuer during his nation's opening match against Mexico Credit: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters Goalies seldom win games, but Manuel Neuer seldom touches the ball. Maybe Joachim Low just wants to give him something to do? Or is it because he so often finds himself in midfield during his wanders from goal? 26. Simon Kjaer (Denmark) Denmark captain Simon Kjaer takes a news conference ahead of their opening match against Peru Credit: Gregorio Borgia/AP Simon Kjaer's probably a good guy. He's made more than 70 appearances for Denmark, plays football for Sevilla and already has a win for his side at the 2018 Russia World Cup. There's only one thing wrong with him...he's not Christian Eriksen. Sorry Simon. 25. Osama Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia) Saudi Arabai captain Osama Hawsawi ahead of the 2018 World Cup opening match against Russia Credit: Sergei Bobylev/Getty Images It comes to a point where Saudi Arabia are so terrible that you have to give credit to captain Hawsawi for somehow guiding them to a World Cup. The only captain capable of a genuine miracle. He also once put his side 1-0 against Spain's all-conquering 2010 side. Yes, they lost 3-2, but still impressive given what we've seen of Saudi Arabia so far. 24. Bryan Ruiz (Costa Rica) Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz celebrates after scoring in an international friendly against Belgium Credit: John Thys/AFP Bryan Ruiz is the perfect example of a player who, as soon as he sets foot in an international match, suddenly becomes great. Fulham fans, who watched him scored a paltry 12 goals in 97 league games, will scarcely believe he still plays football, let alone spearheads his nation's strikeforce. After two goals in 2014, Ruiz leads his side out again as they look to reach another quarter-final. 23. Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal) Senegal captain Cheikhou Kouyate salutes supporters during his side's last training session before their opening match Credit: Seyllou/AFP That's right, Kouyate is a captain. Even after a difficult season when his form stuttered for West Ham, he'll lead out the likes of Liverpool's Sadio Mane and former teammate Diafra Sakho in Russia. One of football's good guys who has spoken openly about his struggles with confidence. An excellent role model, and his side already look a good shout for the second round. 22. Luka Modric (Croatia) Croatia's Luka Modric celebrates scoring a penalty during the Russia 2018 World Cup Credit: Ozan Kose/AFP Luke Modric is brilliant. Take a look at that Croatian side and tell me anyone who even comes close. However, he's not an enormously popular figure his home country, especially after he was charged with perjury for statements made over the details of his transfer from Dinamo Zagreb to Tottenham. Nevertheless, seems to be inspiring his side well enough and scored a wonderful goal against Argentina. 21. Makoto Hasebe (Japan) Japan's Makoto Hasebe during a press conference Credit: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters Hasebe has a smile that could calm down Pepe. Two months ago, his job got a lot harder as Japan sacked their manager, but did Hasebe panic? Of course not. He's been Japan's on-field captain for over 8 years, he led his side to the Asia cup in 2011, and on Tuesday Japan became the first Asian country ever to beat a South American nation. 20. Stephan Lichtsteiner (Switzerland) Switzerland's Lichtsteiner celebrates after scoring a goal against Iceland during a World Cup qualifier Credit: Ruben Sprich/Reuters Switzerland are the masters of the binary result. They either win 1-0, lose 1-0, or draw 1-1. Defence will always be the most important part of Switzerland's game, and so it makes sense that their best defender is their captain. In the past, he's been at the heart of wins over Spain (yes, 1-0), and was instrumental on Sunday in guiding his side to a draw with favourites Brazil (1-1, obviously). 19. Medhi Benatia (Morocco) Morocco's Medhi Benatia looks on before a friendly against Ukraine Credit: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP Morocco's formation against Portugal on Wednesday was Benatia-Benatia-Benatia. Were there any other players on the pitch? Was he also playing for Portugal? Morocco's on-field captain took his country to their first World Cup since 1998, and he was brilliant, even though his team are already knocked out, 18. Eden Hazard (Belgium) Belgium's Eden Hazard shares a joke with his teammates during a training session at the Olympic Park Arena Credit: AFP/Adrian Dennis Imagine Hazard is your captain and you're new to the Belgium squad. You muscle up the courage to ask him a serious question, perhaps you're worried about about facing Harry Kane. Hazard looks you in the eyes, deadly serious, before pulling that face. I'm not sure what Vincent Kompany has done to upset Roberto Martinez, but Hazard takes the captaincy for Belgium. Luckily for them, he's incredibly good at football. 17. Paolo Guerrero (Peru) Peru's Paolo Guerrero poses for a portrait during the official Fifa World Cup 2018 portrait session Credit: Lars Baron/FIFA Country's all-time leading goalscorer, national hero, and scored the goal that got them a place in the play-offs for Russia. Should be enough to get him into the top 10, but he was suspended for doping for nine months before the tournament. Maybe he's innocent, but the best captains stay out of trouble. Looking at you again, Modric. 16. Igor Akinfeev (Russia) Russia's Igor Akinfeev gives a press conference ahead of a friendly match against Turkey Credit: Sergei Bobylev/Getty Images Never one to shirk international responsibilities, Akinfeev has been Russia's undisputed number 1 since 2005 when he was just 19 years old. He went 11 years without keeping a clean sheet in the Champions League, but like a true captain he never gave up, and was eventually rewarded as CSKA Moscow beat AEK Athens 2-0 in the battle of the acronyms. 15. Roman Torres (Panama) Panama's Roman Torres takes part in training ahead of their world cup opener against Belgium Credit: Juan Barreto/AFP Torres scored a last-minute goal that sent Panama to their first ever World Cup, giving his entire country a day off. Nothing else required to make it into the top half of our list. 14. Radamel Falcao (Colombia) Colombia's Radamel Falcao celebrates scoring against Brazil during a World Cup qualifier Credit: Raul Arboleda/AFP Shocking in England, a hero for Colombia. He's their all-time top goalscorer, and still one of the world's best strikers on his day. 13. Aleksandar Kolarov (Serbia) Serbia's Aleksandar Kolarov celebrates winning his group E match against Costa Rica Credit: AFP/Emmanuel Dunand We've seen it so many times. Kolarov readies his left foot and whips the ball into the net from 25 yards. He's a dead ball wizard, and already has a goal at this tournament as he scored the winner in his sides opener against Costa Rica. Comes first on the list of players I'd least like to upset on a Monday. 12. Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) Iran's Ashkan Dejagah poses for a picture during the official FIFA World Cup 2018 portrait session Credit: Stuart Franklin/FIFA Dejegah played for Germany U16s, U17s, U18s, U19s, U20s and U21s, and then...Iran. Recognised that Germany have more than enough talent, so opted for playing his international football elsewhere. Already helped seal his country's first World Cup victory in 20 years. 11. Aron Gunnarsson (Iceland) Iceland's Aron Gunnarsson celebrates after their opening match against Argentina Credit: Christian Hartmann/Reuters Gylfi Sigurdsson is a set-piece magicia...he's not captain? Apparently it's Cardiff's Aron Gunnarsson who can be credited with leading the tiny nation to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, and now to their first ever world cup finals. All this while balancing football with his job as leader of the night's watch in Game of Thrones. 10. Andreas Granqvist (Sweden) Sweden's Andreas Granqvist celebrates after scoring in their opening match against Korea Republic Credit: MB Media/Getty Images Sweden's first match of the Russia 2018 World Cup, and they win a penalty. Who should take it? Centre-back Granqvist, who's scored fewer than 10 goals in his entire 14-year career. He steps up to score the goal that wins the match. Turns out he scored three in qualifying too. Zlatan who? 9. Harry Kane (England) England's forward Harry Kane celebrates after winning the Russia 2018 World Cup Group G football match between Tunisia and England Credit: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP Without getting carried away, Harry Kane will score loads of goals in Russia and win the World Cup for England, before a statue is erected of the great man alongside Kieran Trippier outside of Wembley. At 24, he's also the youngest captain at the tournament, and inspired the three Lions with his brace against Tunisia. Only one game as captain so far means he only makes tenth. Watch this space. 8. Sergio Ramos Spain's Sergio Ramos looks dejected after conceding the second goal against Portugal Credit: Hannah McKay/Reuters There's a good chance that Sergio Ramos will lead a separatist movement, form a new nation, enter the World Cup, and probably win it. He's football's biggest villain, and a red card magnet. Still, he's won just about everything, and is certainly good enough to make into our top 10. 7. Robert Lewandowski (Poland) Poland's Robert Lewandowski poses for a picture during the official Fifa World Cup 2018 portrait session Credit: Stuart Franklin/FIFA Top scorer in qualifying with 16 goals, Lewandowski is far and away the best Poland have...and may ever have. The Bayern Munich man is the nation's star, lethal in front of goal, and one of the few Polish players whose name commentators pronounce correctly. 6. Mile Jedinak (Australia) Australia's Mile Jedinak gives a thumbs up towards the fans after their World Cup 2018 defeat to France Credit: Saeed Khan/AFP A thankless task. Captaining the Australia football team makes him the country's fifth most important sports captain, everywhere else he'd get the appreciation he deserves. Scored a penalty against France on Saturday, and another one on Thursday, but does anyone know? I'm giving him some overdue recognition. 5. Diego Godin (Uruguay) Uruguay's Diego Godin celebrates after his side win their group A opener against Egypt in the 2018 World Cup Credit: Mark Baker/AP The definition of a defensive stalwart. Godin could organise my local five-a-side team into a World Cup-winning defence. He's a master at the back, and does it all whilst somehow keeping Luis Suarez under control. 4. Rafael Marquez (Mexico) Mexico Rafael Marquez celebrates victory against Germany in their 2018 World Cup opener Credit: Mike Hewitt/FIFA As he approaches his 78th birthday, Rafael Marquez still has time to captain the Mexico side at the World Cup. Okay, he's not that old, but what a player and still called upon to see out a clean sheet against Germany. Even from defence, he's managed to score in three separate World Cups. Fourth on the way? 3. Lionel Messi (Argentina) Argentina's Lionel Messi goes down against Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener Credit: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters Okay, let's not carried away with the result against Croatia. Messi has still dragged his country through qualifying and sealed their spot in Russia with a hat-trick against Ecuador. They're rubbish without him, and yet with him they've reached four major finals in the past 10 years. Can he finally win something? The hopes of a nation lay entirely on his tiny shoulders. 2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring his team's first goal during their 2018 World Cup opener against Russia Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Love him or hate him, he ticks every box. He's his country's best player, all time top goalscorer, most appearances ever, led them to Euro 2016 glory, and scored a brilliant hat-trick against Spain in their opening match of this World Cup. Right now, somewhere, someone is making another dodgy statue of the great man. 1. Essam El Hadary (Egypt) Egypt's Essam El Hadary celebrates Egypt's World Cup qualification win over Congo Credit: AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/Reuters Shock, I know, but Egypt's captain has seen it all in his 152 appearances. At the age of 45, he's guided his country to their first World Cup appearance in 28 years. He's the oldest player in World Cup history, he's our number one captain. His great grandchildren must be so proud. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Ranking all 32 captains at the 2018 Russia World Cup
To captain your national side at a World Cup is the greatest honour available to a footballer, but one with its challenges. While the world scrutinises your every move you must be diplomatic, in control, and above everything else you have to perform. It's where knighthoods are earned, statues are built, and BBC Sports Personality of the year awards are won and lost. Thirty-two players think they're up for it this time around, and of course, they must be ranked. We've looked at leadership, legacy, and sometimes even their skill with a football. Here they are, in all their armband-wearing glory. 32. No captain (Brazil) Brazil's Marcelo captained his side during their opening match at the 2018 Russia World Cup Credit: Michael Regan/FIFA After Neymar renounced the captaincy in 2016, manager Tite decided not to appoint a permanent captain, choosing instead to rotate the responsibility around his team. Nice idea Tite, but we're not buying it, and someone has to come last. 31. Whabi Khazri (Tunisia) Wahbi Khazri in training ahead of Tunisia's opener against England Credit: Albert Gea/Reuters Played for Sunderland during their Premiership relegation season, and became known for running around aimlessly for 10 minutes before coasting to the final whistle. Assumes on-field captaincy duties for Tunisia and at 27 years old there's still time for Khazri to make a name for himself. 30. Ki Sung-yeung (South Korea) Ki Sung-yeung reacts to his sides loss in their opener against Sweden Credit: Johannes Eisele/AFP The 2015 Swansea City player of the year comes to Russia without a club after leaving the Welsh side following their relegation to the Championship. Do South Korea have to win the World Cup for him to stay? Doesn't look good after an opening loss to Sweden. 29. John Obi Mikel (Nigeria) John Obi Mikel gives a news conference before their World Cup opening match against Croatia Credit: Vitaly Nevar/Getty Images It feels like John Obi Mikel has been around forever, but remember any of his performances during those 11 years at Chelsea? How good was he against Croatia? Was he there? He's captain, apparently. 28. Hugo Lloris (France) France captain Hugo Lloris during a press conference ahead of their World Cup opener against Australia - All 32 captains at the 2018 Russia World Cup ranked Credit: Sergei Bobylev/Getty Images France have three of the four most expensive players of all time, and with more depth than Manchester City's pockets they are rightfully one of the favourites in Russia. But Hugo Lloris, who looks like he's physically incapable of raising his voice, takes the captaincy. We can only assume it's because he's the least likely player to lead another French rebellion a la 2010. 27. Manuel Neuer (Germany) Germany captain Manuel Neuer during his nation's opening match against Mexico Credit: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters Goalies seldom win games, but Manuel Neuer seldom touches the ball. Maybe Joachim Low just wants to give him something to do? Or is it because he so often finds himself in midfield during his wanders from goal? 26. Simon Kjaer (Denmark) Denmark captain Simon Kjaer takes a news conference ahead of their opening match against Peru Credit: Gregorio Borgia/AP Simon Kjaer's probably a good guy. He's made more than 70 appearances for Denmark, plays football for Sevilla and already has a win for his side at the 2018 Russia World Cup. There's only one thing wrong with him...he's not Christian Eriksen. Sorry Simon. 25. Osama Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia) Saudi Arabai captain Osama Hawsawi ahead of the 2018 World Cup opening match against Russia Credit: Sergei Bobylev/Getty Images It comes to a point where Saudi Arabia are so terrible that you have to give credit to captain Hawsawi for somehow guiding them to a World Cup. The only captain capable of a genuine miracle. He also once put his side 1-0 against Spain's all-conquering 2010 side. Yes, they lost 3-2, but still impressive given what we've seen of Saudi Arabia so far. 24. Bryan Ruiz (Costa Rica) Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz celebrates after scoring in an international friendly against Belgium Credit: John Thys/AFP Bryan Ruiz is the perfect example of a player who, as soon as he sets foot in an international match, suddenly becomes great. Fulham fans, who watched him scored a paltry 12 goals in 97 league games, will scarcely believe he still plays football, let alone spearheads his nation's strikeforce. After two goals in 2014, Ruiz leads his side out again as they look to reach another quarter-final. 23. Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal) Senegal captain Cheikhou Kouyate salutes supporters during his side's last training session before their opening match Credit: Seyllou/AFP That's right, Kouyate is a captain. Even after a difficult season when his form stuttered for West Ham, he'll lead out the likes of Liverpool's Sadio Mane and former teammate Diafra Sakho in Russia. One of football's good guys who has spoken openly about his struggles with confidence. An excellent role model, and his side already look a good shout for the second round. 22. Luka Modric (Croatia) Croatia's Luka Modric celebrates scoring a penalty during the Russia 2018 World Cup Credit: Ozan Kose/AFP Luke Modric is brilliant. Take a look at that Croatian side and tell me anyone who even comes close. However, he's not an enormously popular figure his home country, especially after he was charged with perjury for statements made over the details of his transfer from Dinamo Zagreb to Tottenham. Nevertheless, seems to be inspiring his side well enough and scored a wonderful goal against Argentina. 21. Makoto Hasebe (Japan) Japan's Makoto Hasebe during a press conference Credit: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters Hasebe has a smile that could calm down Pepe. Two months ago, his job got a lot harder as Japan sacked their manager, but did Hasebe panic? Of course not. He's been Japan's on-field captain for over 8 years, he led his side to the Asia cup in 2011, and on Tuesday Japan became the first Asian country ever to beat a South American nation. 20. Stephan Lichtsteiner (Switzerland) Switzerland's Lichtsteiner celebrates after scoring a goal against Iceland during a World Cup qualifier Credit: Ruben Sprich/Reuters Switzerland are the masters of the binary result. They either win 1-0, lose 1-0, or draw 1-1. Defence will always be the most important part of Switzerland's game, and so it makes sense that their best defender is their captain. In the past, he's been at the heart of wins over Spain (yes, 1-0), and was instrumental on Sunday in guiding his side to a draw with favourites Brazil (1-1, obviously). 19. Medhi Benatia (Morocco) Morocco's Medhi Benatia looks on before a friendly against Ukraine Credit: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP Morocco's formation against Portugal on Wednesday was Benatia-Benatia-Benatia. Were there any other players on the pitch? Was he also playing for Portugal? Morocco's on-field captain took his country to their first World Cup since 1998, and he was brilliant, even though his team are already knocked out, 18. Eden Hazard (Belgium) Belgium's Eden Hazard shares a joke with his teammates during a training session at the Olympic Park Arena Credit: AFP/Adrian Dennis Imagine Hazard is your captain and you're new to the Belgium squad. You muscle up the courage to ask him a serious question, perhaps you're worried about about facing Harry Kane. Hazard looks you in the eyes, deadly serious, before pulling that face. I'm not sure what Vincent Kompany has done to upset Roberto Martinez, but Hazard takes the captaincy for Belgium. Luckily for them, he's incredibly good at football. 17. Paolo Guerrero (Peru) Peru's Paolo Guerrero poses for a portrait during the official Fifa World Cup 2018 portrait session Credit: Lars Baron/FIFA Country's all-time leading goalscorer, national hero, and scored the goal that got them a place in the play-offs for Russia. Should be enough to get him into the top 10, but he was suspended for doping for nine months before the tournament. Maybe he's innocent, but the best captains stay out of trouble. Looking at you again, Modric. 16. Igor Akinfeev (Russia) Russia's Igor Akinfeev gives a press conference ahead of a friendly match against Turkey Credit: Sergei Bobylev/Getty Images Never one to shirk international responsibilities, Akinfeev has been Russia's undisputed number 1 since 2005 when he was just 19 years old. He went 11 years without keeping a clean sheet in the Champions League, but like a true captain he never gave up, and was eventually rewarded as CSKA Moscow beat AEK Athens 2-0 in the battle of the acronyms. 15. Roman Torres (Panama) Panama's Roman Torres takes part in training ahead of their world cup opener against Belgium Credit: Juan Barreto/AFP Torres scored a last-minute goal that sent Panama to their first ever World Cup, giving his entire country a day off. Nothing else required to make it into the top half of our list. 14. Radamel Falcao (Colombia) Colombia's Radamel Falcao celebrates scoring against Brazil during a World Cup qualifier Credit: Raul Arboleda/AFP Shocking in England, a hero for Colombia. He's their all-time top goalscorer, and still one of the world's best strikers on his day. 13. Aleksandar Kolarov (Serbia) Serbia's Aleksandar Kolarov celebrates winning his group E match against Costa Rica Credit: AFP/Emmanuel Dunand We've seen it so many times. Kolarov readies his left foot and whips the ball into the net from 25 yards. He's a dead ball wizard, and already has a goal at this tournament as he scored the winner in his sides opener against Costa Rica. Comes first on the list of players I'd least like to upset on a Monday. 12. Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) Iran's Ashkan Dejagah poses for a picture during the official FIFA World Cup 2018 portrait session Credit: Stuart Franklin/FIFA Dejegah played for Germany U16s, U17s, U18s, U19s, U20s and U21s, and then...Iran. Recognised that Germany have more than enough talent, so opted for playing his international football elsewhere. Already helped seal his country's first World Cup victory in 20 years. 11. Aron Gunnarsson (Iceland) Iceland's Aron Gunnarsson celebrates after their opening match against Argentina Credit: Christian Hartmann/Reuters Gylfi Sigurdsson is a set-piece magicia...he's not captain? Apparently it's Cardiff's Aron Gunnarsson who can be credited with leading the tiny nation to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, and now to their first ever world cup finals. All this while balancing football with his job as leader of the night's watch in Game of Thrones. 10. Andreas Granqvist (Sweden) Sweden's Andreas Granqvist celebrates after scoring in their opening match against Korea Republic Credit: MB Media/Getty Images Sweden's first match of the Russia 2018 World Cup, and they win a penalty. Who should take it? Centre-back Granqvist, who's scored fewer than 10 goals in his entire 14-year career. He steps up to score the goal that wins the match. Turns out he scored three in qualifying too. Zlatan who? 9. Harry Kane (England) England's forward Harry Kane celebrates after winning the Russia 2018 World Cup Group G football match between Tunisia and England Credit: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP Without getting carried away, Harry Kane will score loads of goals in Russia and win the World Cup for England, before a statue is erected of the great man alongside Kieran Trippier outside of Wembley. At 24, he's also the youngest captain at the tournament, and inspired the three Lions with his brace against Tunisia. Only one game as captain so far means he only makes tenth. Watch this space. 8. Sergio Ramos Spain's Sergio Ramos looks dejected after conceding the second goal against Portugal Credit: Hannah McKay/Reuters There's a good chance that Sergio Ramos will lead a separatist movement, form a new nation, enter the World Cup, and probably win it. He's football's biggest villain, and a red card magnet. Still, he's won just about everything, and is certainly good enough to make into our top 10. 7. Robert Lewandowski (Poland) Poland's Robert Lewandowski poses for a picture during the official Fifa World Cup 2018 portrait session Credit: Stuart Franklin/FIFA Top scorer in qualifying with 16 goals, Lewandowski is far and away the best Poland have...and may ever have. The Bayern Munich man is the nation's star, lethal in front of goal, and one of the few Polish players whose name commentators pronounce correctly. 6. Mile Jedinak (Australia) Australia's Mile Jedinak gives a thumbs up towards the fans after their World Cup 2018 defeat to France Credit: Saeed Khan/AFP A thankless task. Captaining the Australia football team makes him the country's fifth most important sports captain, everywhere else he'd get the appreciation he deserves. Scored a penalty against France on Saturday, and another one on Thursday, but does anyone know? I'm giving him some overdue recognition. 5. Diego Godin (Uruguay) Uruguay's Diego Godin celebrates after his side win their group A opener against Egypt in the 2018 World Cup Credit: Mark Baker/AP The definition of a defensive stalwart. Godin could organise my local five-a-side team into a World Cup-winning defence. He's a master at the back, and does it all whilst somehow keeping Luis Suarez under control. 4. Rafael Marquez (Mexico) Mexico Rafael Marquez celebrates victory against Germany in their 2018 World Cup opener Credit: Mike Hewitt/FIFA As he approaches his 78th birthday, Rafael Marquez still has time to captain the Mexico side at the World Cup. Okay, he's not that old, but what a player and still called upon to see out a clean sheet against Germany. Even from defence, he's managed to score in three separate World Cups. Fourth on the way? 3. Lionel Messi (Argentina) Argentina's Lionel Messi goes down against Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener Credit: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters Okay, let's not carried away with the result against Croatia. Messi has still dragged his country through qualifying and sealed their spot in Russia with a hat-trick against Ecuador. They're rubbish without him, and yet with him they've reached four major finals in the past 10 years. Can he finally win something? The hopes of a nation lay entirely on his tiny shoulders. 2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring his team's first goal during their 2018 World Cup opener against Russia Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Love him or hate him, he ticks every box. He's his country's best player, all time top goalscorer, most appearances ever, led them to Euro 2016 glory, and scored a brilliant hat-trick against Spain in their opening match of this World Cup. Right now, somewhere, someone is making another dodgy statue of the great man. 1. Essam El Hadary (Egypt) Egypt's Essam El Hadary celebrates Egypt's World Cup qualification win over Congo Credit: AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/Reuters Shock, I know, but Egypt's captain has seen it all in his 152 appearances. At the age of 45, he's guided his country to their first World Cup appearance in 28 years. He's the oldest player in World Cup history, he's our number one captain. His great grandchildren must be so proud. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article

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