Neymar injured, Richarlison scores for Brazil in World Cup

Neymar injured, Richarlison scores for Brazil in World Cup

Neymar injured, Richarlison scores for Brazil in World Cup

LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) – When Neymar limped off the field with an ankle injury, Richarlison came through for the “Seleção.”

A spectacular acrobatic kick followed a simple tap from close range as Richarlison scored both goals in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday at the World Cup.

After the game, the Tottenham striker learned about the extent of Neymar’s injury.

“The most important thing for us is to have him at 100% for the next game,” said Richarlison, whose first goal came after a build-up started by Neymar. “When I get to the hotel I’ll go and see how he is.”

Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said Neymar sprained his right ankle. He declined to speculate on whether he would be available to play in the team’s next game against Switzerland on Monday.

“We put ice on it while he was on the bench and then in physical therapy,” Lasmar said. “There is no test scheduled for now, but we will schedule one if necessary. He will be under observation. We will know more tomorrow.”

Neymar was also injured at the 2014 World Cup. Playing at home in Brazil, his tournament ended with a back injury in the quarter-finals against Colombia when he had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. Brazil ended up losing to Germany 7-1 in the semi-finals.

Neymar was fouled nine times in the match against Serbia, four more than any other player so far in this year’s World Cup. But while they dealt with Neymar, the opposition defense could not stop Richarlison.

He had his back to the goal as he used a touch to get the ball into the air near the penalty spot, then spun and leaped off the ground before tapping the ball into the net with his right foot in the 73rd minute.

“My childhood dream has come true,” said Richarlison, who is playing in his first World Cup. “We knew it was going to be difficult to get past them. I’m used to playing against defensive teams like this in England. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities I had, and I did.

Brazil had struggled to get past the Serbian defense until Richarlison scored from close range in the 62nd. Vinícius Júnior assisted on both goals.

Neymar, seeking his first major title with Brazil, remained on 75 goals for the national team, two short of Pelé’s scoring record.

He was tackled a few times and sprained his right ankle in the second half. He cried on the bench after being substituted in the 79th and limped as he left the stadium.

Brazil coach Tite started with an attack-minded team that included four strikers – Neymar, Vinícius Júnior, Raphinha and Richarlison. Attacking midfielder Lucas Paquetá played alongside Casemiro, the lone defensive midfielder.

But Serbia had several players back and managed to prevent Brazil from creating many significant opportunities. Neymar tried to control the tempo but struggled to break free. He, Vinícius Júnior and Raphinha all wasted chances early on.

Brazil’s best chance before Richarlison’s opener had been a low shot by Alex Sandro that hit the post in the 60th. Neymar had his best opportunities with a free kick in the 50th and a shot from near the penalty spot in the 55th.

Serbia had their own injury problems for the match.

“We have three key players injured – it’s too much for us,” Serbia coach Dragan Stojković said. “We are not Brazil with 200 million people. We are a very small country.”

The 30-year-old Neymar came to his third World Cup as Brazil’s main attraction. He helped the “Seleção” win the 2013 Confederations Cup and its first Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, but has yet to win a major title with the national team.

Brazil, who are trying to win their first World Cup in two decades, are unbeaten in their last 20 opening matches, with 17 wins. It has finished first in its group in the last 10 World Cups.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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