Richarlison scored a spectacular overhead kick as his brace helped five-time champions Brazil to a convincing 2-0 win over Serbia in their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 opener yesterday. But it was again Cristiano Ronaldo, who hogged the limelight as the Portuguese legend became the first player to score in five men’s World Cups as he helped his team to a 3-2 victory over Ghana at Stadium 974.
The forward surpassed the great Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose to stand on his own by scoring at five different editions of the tournament – starting from 2006’s edition in Germany.
The 37-year-old is the third player to be both a country’s oldest and youngest goalscorer at the World Cup, along with Croatia’s Ivica Olic and Denmark’s Michael Laudrup. Including World Cups and Euros, Ronaldo has now scored at 10 consecutive major tournaments.
“It’s a beautiful moment in my fifth World Cup,” Ronaldo told reporters. “We won. We started on a good foot. It’s a very important win. We know in these competitions the first match is fundamental. It’s another record too. That makes me very proud. I am very happy for the team to have put on excellent performance. It was difficult but we deserved to win.”
Later at the Lusail Stadium, Richarlison opened the scoring with an easy tap-in for Brazil before doubling the lead with his acrobatic effort. The South Americans, seeking a record sixth title, showed their silky game as coach Tite went in four forwards – Neymar, Vinicius Jr., Raphinha and Richarlison. The attacking nature of the game paid off handsomely as Selecao dominated the match and made Serbia work hard every time they went forward.
PSG star Neymar was substituted with concern over his fitness. But it was later reported he was taken off as a precaution after receiving one kick too many in the match. Brazil are top of Group G, with Switzerland second after they beat Cameroon 1-0 and Serbia are bottom.
Meanwhile, Football legend Pele gave Brazil a virtual pre-match pep talk before the national team prepared to make their World Cup debut, telling them: “Bring this trophy home.”
The 82-year-old icon posted a series of photos of his past World Cup glories on Instagram, telling Neymar and his teammates: “Today we start writing a new story.” Sport Pages 1-8
Richarlison scores his second goal in the Group G - Brazil v Serbia match at the Lusail Stadium, yesterday