ST. PETERSBURG — On the summer season solstice, with the dipping solar stopping in need of the horizon and failing to totally darken this luminescent northern metropolis, residents and guests alike take pleasure in for weeks what is called the White Nights.
Countless days invite nonstop exercise, within the fairly parks and alongside the Neva River and Baltic Sea.
What higher time and setting for the Brazilian plenty, soccer revelers of unparalleled endurance, followers of the famed Selecao, worshipers of the solar wrapped in lovely shiny yellow?
And so Friday they got here to this beautiful nook of Europe — and fretted and fumed and fussed whereas a laborious match towards Costa Rica unfolded earlier than two objectives in second-half stoppage time defused the strain and produced a 2-Zero victory.
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Philippe Coutinho’s go-ahead objective introduced such profound reduction, Coach Tite charged onto the sphere and tumbled to the turf.
“It tore some fibers,” he stated, smiling. “I’m limping.”
The ache — and the wait — was price it. Brazil responded from an uneven efficiency in a 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Sunday and an underwhelming show within the first half Friday to maneuver to the brink of a round-of-16 berth from Group E.
Tite was not the one one to launch his feelings. Neymar, the star attacker looking for to regain world-class kind after foot surgical procedure sidelined him a lot of the yr, dropped to his knees on the final whistle, lined his face and shed tears. He had put the end result to relaxation with a objective within the final seconds.
“The joy, the satisfaction and the pride of representing the Brazilian national team is a lot,” Tite stated. “He has the responsibility and pressure and courage to show it. Everyone shows it in their own way.”
With their group needing virtually each final second to earn the anticipated three factors, Brazilian followers rode a wave of feelings all afternoon. Costa Rica, which won’t advance after reaching the quarterfinals in 2014, threatened to take the lead within the first half earlier than Brazil discovered its method after halftime.
The coach “always highlights the importance of being mentally strong from the beginning,” Coutinho stated. “Whether you score in the first minute or the last minute, you have to fight. We fought to the end. We were rewarded with the victory.”
You bought the sense watching Brazil within the second half that issues are starting to fall into place. Neymar is getting stronger and the chemistry is enhancing. Whereas Germany and Argentina have struggled, Brazil appears to be like like its constructing towards a championship run.
“I see the team consolidating and growing,” Tite stated. “Sometimes the players build their own spirit. I have to look to foster that growth and strengthen the team.”
Early on, although, Costa Rica recognized gaps within the Brazilian formation and generated alternative each from counterattacks and possession. The very best: Celso Borges’s operating one-timer, a transparent bid from 14 yards, that streaked past the far put up.
The Brazilians roared to life after intermission, lifted partially by the arrival of Douglas Costa and the departure of Willian, who logged 45 awful minutes.
“I joked, ‘Look at the old man, 57 years old, please control the ball and make opportunities,’ ” Tite stated.
They responded. Gabriel Jesus’ header kissed the crossbar and Costa Rica defender Cristian Gamboa blocked Coutinho’s bid. Unmarked within the coronary heart of the penalty space, Neymar drove a one-timer over the crossbar.
Brazilian frustration grew. At one level, after a participant joust, Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers gestured to Neymar to close his mouth.
The Ticos have been consumed with absorbing strain and counterattacking, the one method they have been going to outlive.
From a tactical standpoint, there was nothing for them to be ashamed about. (Till the final 10 minutes, anyway, after they stalled and embellished accidents.) It was sensible, affected person soccer that turned the bulk Brazilian viewers into nervous wrecks.
Ticos Coach Oscar Ramirez stated: “I don’t know what else we could’ve done. What we did was perfect. Considering what I had at my disposal and what they had, it was reasonable what we did.”
Neymar had one other nice look, whistling a 22-yarder previous the highest proper nook. With nothing going his method, he turned to trickery, tipping over like a rotting tree when Giancarlo Gonzalez made mild contact within the field.
Kuipers awarded a penalty kick, however video replay took it away.
“Brazil doesn’t need any help,” Tite stated. “The athletes don’t want any help. The coach doesn’t need any help. We want to be better — that’s how we want to win.”
Enjoying higher didn’t translate into objectives. Irritation grew. Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas, Actual Madrid’s main goalkeeper, didn’t make any errors.
Then got here the breakthrough. Roberto Firmino received a header within the field. Gabriel Jesus left the ball for Coutinho, who stabbed in a one-timer.
Later, Neymar knocked in Costa’s cross to clinch the end result — and present late-arriving reduction for the band of Brazilian supporters.
“He is a human being,” Tite stated of the famous person. “He needs time to resume his high standards. While he is doing that, the team has to be strong and not dependent on him. Is he going to make it? Yes, of course, he’s going to make it. He’s going to reach the top. You will see.”
— Steven Goff
Brazil: vs. Serbia in Moscow, June 27, 2 p.m.
Costa Rica: vs. Switzerland in Nizhny-Novgorod, June 27, 2 p.m.
It’s the dagger for Brazil within the 97th minute as Costa finds Neymar for a much-earned objective, simply earlier than the top. This’ll finish 2-Zero. Neymar is in tears after the whistle.
Coutinho collects the ball within the field after a tip from Jesus and Navas can’t cease this one within the 91st minute. Brazil is up 1-Zero and the celebration suggests a a lot larger win than a World Cup group-stage match.
Down goes Tite!
He virtually did it once more about three minutes later, however his close-in shot is excessive and extensive.
Penalty shot overturned!
In the end, after a lot politicking, Neymar will get a name as he’s dragged down by Gonzales within the field. Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers goes to the video to ensure Neymar wasn’t embellishing and . . . he overturns his personal name! (Neymar gave it an excessively dramatic promote, sure.)
Within the 81st minute, Neymar slams the ball to the turf throughout a stoppage in play and will get the yellow. Coutinho acquired one, too. The boiling level has been reached.
Kuipers shouldn’t count on a Christmas card from Neymar this yr. Or, frankly, from anybody in Brazil.
Ticos completed with subs
Costa Rica makes a second substitution within the 75th minute as Francisco Calvo comes on for Cristian Gamboa. Within the 83rd minute, Yeltsin Tejeda comes on for David Guzman.
Brazil’s second sub
Roberto Firmino enters for Paulinho, within the 67th minute. Moments later, Casimiro’s header off a nook kick is straight at Navas.
Then, with area to roam after a Costa Rican try is halted and a nasty Tico contact provides the ball away, Neymar’s try from 25 yards goes inches proper. He had Navas beat, however the purpose was simply extensive.
Costa Rica shakes issues up
Christian Bolanos, turning into the primary Costa Rican to seem in three World Cups, comes on to switch Marco Urena.
So. Many. Possibilities.
Brazil is getting proper to it, first by batting the ball across the field. Navas took a knee to the midsection from Neymar as he corralled the ball. He appeared to be at the very least momentarily in ache.
Then, moments later, Jesus had Navas overwhelmed however not the put up. His header bangs off — and Coutinho’s strike on the rebound is booted away by Navas — and we stay scoreless.
A change for Brazil
Willian is off, Douglas Costa is on for Brazil as we start the second half.
Brazil is controlling possession (round 65 %) however hasn’t been in a position to piece collectively a very sturdy scoring likelihood. Costa Rica had a couple of minor probabilities to get numbers on the counterattack however they didn’t have a lot urgency behind them.
Various Costa Rica’s fouls have been dedicated on Neymar — hey, it appears to be the factor to do — and he had some phrases for Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers earlier than getting pulled away by his teammates as he was heading to the locker room.
Ticos merely holding on
Costa Rica, in its uncommon forays with possession, appears content material to tinker with the ball at midfield till Brazil inevitably takes it away. Simply looks as if they’re attempting to stem the tide proper now.
Marcelo seems to score within the 26th minute however the offside flag was up. No objective. Correct name. Moments later, Neymar has a run in however Navas breaks it up. Brazil, significantly Neymar, beginning to buzz right here with runs down the left facet. Marcelo sends a shot simply extensive within the 29th minute.
Neymar fouled once more. And Once more.
Within the 15th minute, the oft-fouled Neymar will get his foot stepped on throughout a problem by David Guzman. He’s down however then up. It’s his left foot, not the troublesome proper. Two minutes later, he’s fouled once more by Johan Venegas after a nifty transfer.
Seven fouls for Costa Rica within the first 23 minutes.
Casemiro attempting to cease the bleeding
Casemiro took a ball to the nostril and needed to come off to cease the bleeding. With Brazil right down to 10 males, Costa Rica pushes ahead and Celso Borges sends a great try on to Alisson. It goes simply extensive.
Bear in mind Fagner’s celebration?
Fagner has had the ball on his ft a couple of occasions already in his first-ever World Cup match. Bear in mind when he discovered he made the group in Could? Good things right here:
Each groups carry an air of unease into their second group-stage match. Brazil has needed to spend the times since its opening draw with Switzerland answering questions on its subpar efficiency and damage considerations about Neymar. Costa Rica, in the meantime, has been roiled by alleged intrasquad tiffs: According to the Tico Times, an obvious apply argument between gamers Johan Venegas and Giancarlo González was broadcast on a reside feed earlier than it was taken down. In the meantime, the gamers maybe are sad with Coach Oscar Ramírez and allegedly really feel like star goalkeeper Keylor Navas isn’t being the perfect teammate. With Brazil on faucet, none of that may be seen as perfect. Costa Rica wants at the very least a draw to maintain its knockout-round hopes alive.
Brazil is now on a three-game winless streak on the World Cup, relationship to 2014. The final time they went 4 video games and not using a win: 1974-78.
Brazil: Alisson; Silva, Miranda, Marcelo, Fagner; Casemiro, Coutinho, Paulinho, Willian; Jesus, Neymar
Costa Rica: Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte, Oviedo, Gamboa; Borges, Ruiz, Guzman; Venegas, Urena
Of observe: Sure, Neymar is within the beginning 11 for Brazil, which is also changing an injured Danilo with Fagner (making his first-ever World Cup look and taking part in in solely his fifth-ever worldwide sport). Costa Rica slots in Bryan Oviedo for Francisco Calvo.
— Matt Bonesteel
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