LUSAIL Stadium, the venue for the final of the World Cup in Qatar, the place where Brazil hope to be on Dec 18, is an imposing amphitheatre made for the big stage. Two days ago, Brazil’s eternal rivals Argentina crumbled here to Saudi Arabia.

Brazil, seeking a record-extending sixth World Cup title, were looking to make a statement in their Group ‘G’ opener against Serbia on Thursday night. And they put on a show. Richarlison scored twice, the second a wonder goal, as the Selecao won 2-0.

Brazil had bossed possession but were being frustrated by a well-drilled Serbian defence; Raphinha missing two glorious chances in the space of 10 minutes either side of half-time and Alex Sandro seeing a shot from 25 yards thunder off the base of the post on the hour mark.

Three minutes later, though, they had the goal they wanted. Neymar found Vinicius Junior on the left and after his first-time shot was parried away by Vanja Milenkovic-Savic, Richarlison bundled in the rebound.

It brought Serbia out of their shell and after they threatened briefly, Richarlison ended their hopes; lifting Vinicius’ low cross and then finding the net with an acrobatic volley in the 73rd.

Brazil could’ve had more as Serbia wilted. Casemiro’s shot cannoned off the woodwork and Milenkovic-Savic turned away a fierce shot from Fred. Brazil coach then showed the wealth of riches he possesses, bringing on Gabriel Jesus and Antony. On this performance, Brazil look like the team to beat in Qatar.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2022

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