By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Following a frustrating start to their 2018 World Cup campaign, Brazil rebounded with a resilient effort, dominating ball possession and shots on goal to beat a stubborn Costa Rican club 2-0 in St. Petersberg, Russia, earlier today.
In their first Group E match on Sunday, June 17th, the Seleção were held by Switzerland to a 1-1 draw in a bruising match that saw Brazil’s star winger Neymar hobble off the pitch.
With question marks swirling around his condition, Neymar was on the pitch Friday sporting a new haircut and looking ready to go as Brazil searched for redemption in their second group match.
Brazil set the pace early on, earning the game’s first chance from game one scorer, Coutinho, who sailed it just over the crossbar.
Despite dominating possession, Brazil showed rare leaks in its steady defense, with Costa Rica threatening on a couple of early chances of their own.
Brazil’s best chance came about halfway through the first as Neymar streaked behind Costa Rica’s defense only to meet Real Madrid’s, Keylor Navas, who came out for the block.
After a goalless first, Brazil stormed out in the second putting enormous pressure on Costa Rica’s stout defense. The seleção saw chances from Gabriel Jesus, Coutinho, and several shots from Neymar, who just missed breaking the game open on a multitude of occasions.
After a deadlocked ninety minutes, six minutes of stoppage time were added. Brazil would only need one to finally break the game open.
Coutinho once again saved the Seleção, darting into the box and crushing a close range shot past Navas for the 1-0 lead.
Minutes later, after being targeted for the second game in a row, Neymar put the nail in the coffin slotting in an empty netter at the 97th minute to seal the 2-0 win for Brazil.
Following their win, Brazil surged to the top of the Group E standing with 4 points, one ahead of second-place Serbia, who is set to play their second group match against Switzerland later today.
Brazil will face Serbia in their third group match on Wednesday, June 27th.