Brazil vs Korea Republic. FIFA World Cup Round of 16.
Match report as Brazil coast into the quarter-final of the 2022 World Cup after a crushing 4-1 win over South Korea at Stadium 974; Neymar moves to within one goal of Pele's record of 77 goals for Brazil with early penalty; Vinicius Junior, Lucas Paqueta and Richarlison also on target
Tuesday 6 December 2022 06:22, UK
Brazil coasted into the quarter-finals of the World Cup as an exuberant first-half performance helped them to a 4-1 win over South Korea on Monday night.
Tite's side were boosted by the return of Neymar - who suffered an ankle injury in the opening win over Serbia - and the 30-year-old announced his return with a penalty that moved him one goal behind Pele's international record of 77 (13), which doubled Brazil's lead after Vinicius Junior's cool opener (7).
Richarlison then netted his third goal of the tournament after some of the most exquisite build-up (29) and it was 4-0 before the break when West Ham's Lucas Paqueta guided in a shot to get in on the act (36).
But with the job already very much done by the break, the momentum slowed after it. As a result, South Korea did not let their heads drop and they had a brief moment to celebrate when Seung-Ho Paik reduced the deficit with a thumping strike (76).
Unsurprisingly, it was not enough to inspire a comeback from Paulo Bento's side, who exit after having reached the knockout stages for the first time since 2010
Brazil, meanwhile, advance to the last eight of the tournament, where a clash with Croatia awaits on Friday afternoon.
Neymar later revealed he had feared his tournament was over after his injury, saying: "When I got injured, I had a very difficult night.
"I was thinking of a million different things and I was afraid I might not be able to play in this World Cup again, but I had the support of all my colleagues, my family and I tried to look for strength where I could not find it.
Brazil: Alisson (8), Militao (7), Marquinhos (7), Silva (8), Danilo (7), Casemiro (7), Paqueta (8), Raphinha (8), Neymar (8), Vinicius Junior (8), Richarlison (8)
Subs: Alves (6), Bremer (6), Martinelli (6), Rodrygo (n/a), Weverton (n/a)
South Korea: Seung-Gyu Kim (7), Moon-Hwan Kim (6), Young-Gwon Kim (6), Min-Jae Kim (6), Jin-Su Kim (5), In-Beom Hwang (6), Woo-Young Jung (5), Hee-Chan Hwang (7), Heung-Min Son (6), Gue-Sung Cho (5), Jae-Sung Lee (5).
Subs: Jun-Ho Son (7), Chul Hong (5), Seung-Ho Paik (7), Kang-In Lee (5), Ui-Jo Hwang (n/a)
Man of the match: Vinicius Junior
As the final match at Stadium 974 before it is dismantled began, the high tempo of the opening exchanges hinted this would be a competitive affair. Less than 15 minutes in, it became abundantly clear that would not be the case.
Brazil were soon very much in the groove when Raphinha brilliantly rode a challenge on the left-hand side of the box and sent a low ball skidding through a group of players to Vinicius Junior, who took one touch to control the ball and caressed it home with his second.
And it was two very shortly afterwards when Neymar successfully dispatched a penalty to move closer to a historic milestone after Richarlison had been caught by Woo-Young Jung.
The major setback made South Korea grow more fearless, with Alisson producing a heroic save to push away Hee-Chan Hwang's stunning goalbound effort from 25 yards. At the same time, gaps began to emerge at the back, which were subsequently punished.
Brazil's third oozed the South American flair that will undoubtedly see it featured among the goals of the tournament. Richarlison juggled the ball with his head and coolly finished after the slickest of exchanges between Thiago Silva and Casemiro. If that didn't end Korean hopes, Paqueta certainly did when he guided Vinicius Junior's scooped cross home.
Tite's men tried to build on their simply unassailable lead after the break, but an inspired performance from goalkeeper Seung-Gyu Kim prevented them from extending their advantage - and their opponents even managed to take a smidgen of gloss off the victory late on, when substitute Seung-Ho Paik rattled in a consolation from 25 yards after a corner was cleared into his path.
But this was Brazil's night and it is they who inch closer to glory after an imperious performance in Doha.
By bringing on third-choice goalkeeper Weverton against South Korea, Brazil have now used all 26 members of their squad at the 2022 World Cup. They have become the first side in World Cup history to use as many as 26 players at a single edition.
South Korea coach Paulo Bento announced his departure from the role in the wake of his side's World Cup defeat to Brazil.
The 53-year-old, who took over in August 2018, said he had already made the decision to bow out after the tournament prior to travelling to Qatar.
Bento said: "We just have to think about the future, and it will not be with the national team of South Korea.
"I have just announced to the players and to the president of the South Korean federation and this was a decision I had already taken since September that was set in stone.
"Today I have confirmed it and I have to thank them for everything they have done. They have given their very best and I have been very pleased and proud to have been their manager."
However, at the end of the press conference, a spokesperson seemed to contradict Bento by saying that he had misspoken and had not quit.
Brazil coach Tite said his dance celebration during his side's emphatic win was an expression of pure joy at his side's bold attacking performance - and would help him bond with his young team.
Brazil's players rushed over to the dugout after Richarlison put the five-time world champions 3-0 up inside 30 minutes and Tite briefly joined in their dancing.
"We try to adapt to the characteristics of the players," the 61-year-old said when asked about his moves at a news conference. "They are very young and I try to adapt a bit to their language, and part of their language is dancing."
He said his players told him before the game that they would make him dance with them if they scored.
Not everyone was impressed. Sky Sports' Roy Keane, speaking on ITV, said: "People say it's their culture. But I think that's really disrespecting the opposition."
Tite was at pains to stress that was not the case.
"There's no interpretation other than happiness at the goal, happiness for the team, happiness for the performance," he said. "There was no disrespect for the opposition nor towards (South Korean coach) Paulo Bento for whom I have a lot of respect."
The 22-year-old Real Madrid forward had been one of the brightest attacking sparks in Brazil's subdued group-stage performances, so it was perhaps no surprise that he would play a key role when Tite's men finally turned on the style.
Vinicius Junior showed composure when he took a touch and placed his shot into the net in a high-pressure environment and the assist he picked up came from a moment of brilliance too, with his scooped cross well finished by Lucas Paqueta.
Brazil's players displayed a banner in support of Pele on the pitch as they celebrated their victory at Stadium 974.
The squad unfurled the banner, which featured just one word - 'Pele!' - alongside a picture of the Brazil great, following their 4-1 triumph.
Speaking after the match, Vinicius Junior said: "Lets hope we can carry on dancing all the way to the final. And we are also sending a big hug to Pele. Let's hope he recovers quickly."
Pele had earlier sent a message to his compatriots ahead of the match.
The three-time World Cup winner said on social media he would be watching the game from the hospital in Sao Paulo where he was admitted last week.
There were concerns over the 82-year-old's health when news outlets in Brazil reported that he had been moved to palliative care, but an update from doctors about his treatment for colon cancer was followed by a message on Pele's Instagram page that he was "strong" and which called for calm.
Ahead of Monday evening's last-16 tie, Pele recalled memories of his World Cup debut in 1958, when the 17-year-old helped Brazil lift the Jules Rimet Trophy in Sweden.
He wrote on Twitter: "In 1958, I walked the streets thinking about fulfilling the promise I made to my father. I know that today many have made similar promises and are also going in search of their first World Cup. I'll be watching the game from hospital and I'll be rooting for each one of you. Good luck!"
Injury affected Pele's contribution to the 1962 and 1966 World Cup finals, but he returned to lead Brazil to a third triumph in Mexico in 1970 as part of what is widely regarded as the greatest international team of all time.
Following Brazil's victory on Monday night, Neymar spoke about the ankle injury he suffered against Serbia during their opening game of the World Cup.
"When I got injured, I had a very difficult night," he said. "I was thinking of a million different things and I was afraid I might not be able to play in this World Cup again, but I had the support of all my colleagues, my family and I tried to look for strength where I could not find it.
"First of all, I would like to thank God for the strength I have to be back on the pitch, to be able to train and to be able to do everything I needed to do to be on the pitch again. Thank you to my physiotherapist, my colleagues, to all of those who encouraged me over the last few days.
"I'm very happy to be back on the field of play and I'm very happy to have played well. We are very happy with our performance. We wanted to move to the next round, we wanted to win and that's what we got.
"I did not feel any pain on my ankle tonight. I'm very content with my performance. That said, I think we can always improve and that's what I try to do. I'm not 100 per cent satisfied with today, we needed to aim for more."
Quarter-finals - Friday December 9
Croatia vs Brazil - Kick-off 3pm
Semi-finals - Tuesday December 13
Netherlands or Argentina vs Croatia or Brazil - Kick-off 7pm
Brazil now advance to the World Cup quarter-finals, where they will face Croatia for a place in the semi-finals of the tournament on Friday.
Kick-off at the Education City Stadium will be at 3pm.
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