Thiago Silva captained Brazil to an emphatic 4-1 victory over South Korea, providing the assist for one of the best goals of the World Cup so far as they booked their place in the quarter-finals in true samba style.
Brazil showed exactly why they are many people’s favourites for glory in Qatar and in truth there was only ever one team in this last-16 tie, as South Korea found themselves completely unable to handle Thiago Silva and his team-mates.
It tells much of the story of the game that the Chelsea defender’s most telling contribution came from open play in the final third, as he produced a pass any of his attacking team-mates would be proud of.
It was a fine move started and finished by Richarlison, but Thiago Silva showed great vision to spot that the Tottenham striker had continued his run into the box, combined with excellent technique to find him with a perfectly-weighted first-time pass into his path, allowing Richarlison to slide a shot into the back of the net.
By that point Brazil were 3-0 up, after Vinicius Junior fired the opener through a crowded box and Neymar had opened his account in Qatar calmly from the penalty spot, following a foul on Richarlison.
They made it four by half-time was Lucas Paqueta volleyed in Vinicius Junior’s scooped pass. Brazil took their foot off the gas slightly after the break, with the game effectively over as a contest, and despite a stunning consolation goal for South Korea the result was never in doubt after that devastating start.
It took just seven minutes for Brazil to stamp their authority on the game with the opening goal. It was nice piece of skill under pressure by Raphinha on the right which allowed him to exchange passes with Casemiro and get free near the byline to open things up.
When he drilled the ball across goal it somehow found its way through a congested box before reaching Vinicius Junior on the far side of the area. The Real Madrid winger showed great composure to take a touch and time to pick his spot before finishing high into the net past a crowd of Korean defenders on the line.
Before long Brazil had a chance to make it two from the penalty spot, when South Korea failed to clear and then Richarlison was caught by wild swing of the boot after beating the defender to the ball. Neymar – back in the side after missing the last two games with an ankle injury – stepped up to the spot with goalkeeper Kim Seung-Gyu playing mind games by starting a long way to the right-hand side of his goal.
The Brazil striker wasn’t to be distracted, though, calmly rolling the ball the other way and into the back of the net. With just 12 minutes on the clock, Brazil were two goals ahead and seemed to have South Korea on the ropes.
Korea did try to hit back and Alisson had to produce a good save to deny Hwang Hee-Chan from distance. However, before the clock hit the half-hour mark Brazil had scored again, with Thiago Silva providing a brilliant assist for a goal of the highest quality by Richarlison, which had even the manager joining in the dance with his players during the celebrations.
Richarlison showed strength and skill to keep the ball in the air and away from the opposition by juggling with his head, eventually bringing it down and playing it to Marquinhos on the edge of the box before continuing his run forwards. Marquinhos laid it off to his old Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Thiago Silva, who showed technique and vision to play a first-time pass back to Richarlison, leaving the latter free behind the Korea defence with time to control and confidently finish into the bottom corner.
It was already an intimidating start which seemed to send a message to the rest of the teams with ambitions of lifting the trophy in Qatar, but Brazil were nowhere near finished and eight minutes later it was 4-0. This time Vinicius Junior got into space on the left and with time to spare he scooped a pass towards the penalty spot, where Lucas Paqueta arrived to meet it first time and side-foot a volley low past the goalkeeper.
Paqueta, Raphinha and Richarlison went close to extending the lead further before half-time, but as it was Brazil had to settle for just the four-goal advantage at the break and it was the least they deserved after completely dismantling their opponents in a brilliant 45 minutes of football.
Thiago Silva was briefly roaring at his team-mates to guard against complacency, as the second half began with a couple of careless passes from Brazil and Son Heung-Min being allowed to get free and draw another good save from Alisson, but normal service was soon resumed with the South Americans in control.
Raphinha twice should have extended the lead but was kept out by Kim Seung-Gyu, as Brazil cruised through most of the second half. With such a healthy advantage, they were happy to let South Korea have the ball and commit numbers forward without allowing them to threaten, while attempting to add to the scoreline on the counter.
The only change in the second half came in the form of a memorable consolation goal for South Korea, though, when a free-kick was cleared to substitute Paik Seung-Ho and he smashed a powerful shot past Alisson to make it 4-1.
However, by that point Brazil were so confident in their inevitable victory that they took off Alisson with 10 minutes remaining so that the only member of their squad not to have featured in Qatar so far, third-choice goalkeeper Weverton, could make a brief cameo.
Brazil will next face Mateo Kovacic's Croatia in the World Cup quarter-finals on Friday 9 December, with the Netherlands or Argentina awaiting the winner in the semis.