International

Willian starts in Brazil's late show

  • 22 Jun 2018

Willian featured for Brazil as they scored two late goals to secure their first victory at the World Cup against Costa Rica.

Willian, starting for the second game in succession, began the match on the right-hand side of a front three, with Gabriel Jesus through the middle and Neymar on the left.

Philippe Coutinho, scorer of Brazil’s goal in their 1-1 draw against Switzerland, was deployed in a slightly deeper midfield role in a 4-3-3 formation, and the Barcelona man was first to threaten, fizzing a strike over the bar after just three minutes.

It was Costa Rica, though, who passed up the best of the early opportunities when Celso Borges’s strike, from a Cristian Gamboa cut-back, rolled just beyond the far post.

As the midway point of the first half ticked by Brazil’s creative players were struggling to exert any influence on the game, while Jesus was cutting an isolated figure up front.

The Manchester City man had the ball in the back of the net in the 25th minute, a strike which was correctly ruled out for offside, and soon after a poor touch from Neymar let the forward down as he raced through following a clever ball over the top by Coutinho.
 

With the majority of Brazil’s attacking play coming down their left-hand side, Willian was seeing little of the ball, and when he picked up possession just after the half-hour mark the Chelsea winger shifted inside but curled a left-footed effort well wide.

Douglas Costa of Juventus replaced Willian at half-time for Brazil, who struck the bar through Jesus soon after the restart.

Neymar was then denied by a superb Keylor Navas save, and with 12 minutes remaining there was a controversial moment as Brazil were awarded a penalty for a foul on the Paris Saint-Germain forward, only for the referee to reverse his decision after consulting VAR.

It looked as though Brazil were going to have to settle for a point, but as six minutes of added time were signalled they took the lead, Coutinho stabbing home from close range after Roberto Firmino had flicked on a Marcelo cross. Neymar then added a second with virtually the last kick of the game when he converted a Costa cross on the break.

It wasn’t anywhere near as simple as the final scoreline may suggest but Brazil, who now have four points, got the job done ahead of their final group game against Serbia on Wednesday.

 

 

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