That’s what happened on Thursday night, when the goal of this fledgling World Cup graced Lusail Stadium two days after the upset of the ages did the same. Where on Tuesday it had been Saudi Arabia over Argentina, now came the drama in 73 minutes in Brazil over Serbia. It cemented Brazil’s 2-0 opening win. It came from Richarlison, the 25-year-old who has scored a lot lately. It made people gasp and maybe even shout involuntarily.
It set off a stadium noise that carried the unmistakable sound of wonder and lingered longer than most such sounds do. It sent Tite, the long-serving Brazil manager, into a lovable frenzy as he stepped up to give his staff a group hug and later said: “Sometimes emotions can’t be explained.” And it gave the postgame concourses the kind of lingering buzz you can’t get from the non-alcoholic beer they serve in these stadiums here.
“I thought it was a beautiful finish,” Richarlison said of his bike spinning in the middle of the box. He mentioned previous and similar goals with the Fluminense club in Brazil and Everton in England and said: “Today I had the opportunity to make an acrobatic goal which was very, very nice, I think one of the finest of my career. It was a very tough game for us, so I think it was one of the best goals I’ve ever scored.
He has scored 88 in club play, 19 in international play and two of those 19 on Thursday night, so there are a lot of goals to consider. “As our professor, Tite, says, ‘You smell goals,'” Richarlison said. “And that’s what happens.” It rewarded those who had traveled to the stadium in anticipation of beauty as they filled the spotless new subway cars and shiny new subway stations with the old, reliable electric yellow.
What they saw and probably considered on the way home in Portuguese and a bunch of other languages even managed to overshadow something that was difficult to overshadow. Neymar, Brazil’s most recognizable figure, now 30 and Paris-based, suffered an ankle injury in the second half, played another 11 minutes before the manager realized it, was praised by his manager for his pain tolerance and was the subject of a press conference appearance by a team doctor, who said it’s too early to say much.
“We are sure Neymar will continue to play,” Tite said. “He will continue to play in the World Cup.” If so, he could help guide Brazil’s bid for a first World Cup title in a yawning 20 years, as well as chase down the record for Brazil goals held by Pele at 77, with Neymar at 75. If not, well, there the other stars. with electric skills in electric yellow, and both goals on Thursday went on merry trips through Vinicius Junior to Richarlison.
It happened after 62 minutes, when Vinicius Junior, the 22-year-old prodigy of energy and precision and Real Madrid recruit, put a ball that Neymar had lost track of on the left side of the box and suddenly thumped it into the goal. , with keeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic diving to save it before Richarlison easily poked it in.
It made it 1-0, and it wasn’t what people want to take with them in their memory banks.
The unforgettable one came 11 minutes later and it again depended on Vinicius Junior’s creation. Operating from the left wing, of course, this time he slipped a seeing-eye ball through a dense corridor of human obstacles. It found its way through to Richarlison in the middle of the box and then wha came.
Richarlison fielded it with his left foot and crossed it in the air. Then he whirled around, spinning his body and riding it with his right foot. It may not have even grazed the left shoulder of Serbian defender Milos Velijkovic by an inch when Richarlison’s flying, flapping boot nearly nudged Velijkovic’s head. It kept its screeching line and raced in just inside the left post, with Milinkovic-Savic as helpless in the late rush as any of the 8 billion Earthlings would have been. For the second time in a short period of time, the entire Brazilian team gathered in the corner for a fierce celebration.
“It goes up,” Tite said of the ball, “and he re-plans the whole plan,” and what skilled plan-re-planners they are.
The star-studded of World Cup star teams, Brazil, had finally made their debut at this 22nd Men’s World Cup, the 22nd Brazil has qualified for. It had become the last of the great men to start this world championship with the odd position on the calendar. The fans from all over the world, many times in abundance, had arrived with their singing power in the usual display of can’t-wait. With a few Serbs in red and blue mixed in, they had emptied out towards the Lusail Stadium, the futuristic structure that at night resembles an illuminated soap dish.
They saw Brazil, the tournament favorite by default, knock around a more than capable Serbia through a first half without many wows. “At half-time,” said Tite, the 61-year-old who has coached Brazil since 2016, “I have to tell my players to calm down because first we have to have a [lightness] that we needed to pass the ball.”
He said: “We needed to lower the adrenaline.”
They made adjustments in positioning and soon, assistant Cleber Xavier said, “We kept expanding the speed, expanding the movements and creating opportunities,” whereupon they created wonder.
Group G had left the starting gate with the Brazilians tied with the Swiss on three points and Richarlison declared “a fantastic night” with “a beautiful win” so “now we have another six games to reach our target” but first wanted to check on Neymar’s return at the hotel. Serbia, who had won their group in qualifying, “were always under a lot of pressure” in the game, Tite said, “so it demanded a lot from us.” All this made a primo start to Brazil’s attempt to increase the record of five World Cup titles to six, and reminded with a gasping blow that Brazil’s reality at times matches the idea.