Coutinho and Neymar snatch win to sink Costa Rica
Philippe Coutinho and Neymar scored in stoppage-time to hand Brazil a dramatic 2-0 win which knocked Costa Rica out of the World Cup and featured yet more VAR controversy.
The result leaves the five-times world champions with four points from two games after they drew 1-1 with Switzerland in their opening match, and they provisionally rise above Serbia to top Group E.
Coach Tite’s team were heading for a second inglorious draw when Barcelona midfielder Coutinho popped up to poke home from Roberto Firmino’s nod down.
The clock had ticked past 90 minutes when Marcelo crossed from the left and substitute Roberto Firmino headed the ball back across goal to Gabriel Jesus.
Well, that was late; and indeed a little ugly at times. On a breezy afternoon by the Gulf of Finland Brazil beat Costa Rica 2-0 at the St Petersburg Stadium to ease their route towards the knockout stage of Russia 2018.
The goals were both scored in injury time, the first by their best player on the day Philippe Coutinho, who came haring through a crowd on to a touch from Gabriel Jesus to poke the ball through the legs of Keylor Navas and send the yellow-shirted stands into a fever.
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As the clock ticked down Neymar added a second, the Costa Rica defence finally parting after some fine, dogged efforts.
The forward, who thought he had won a penalty in the 77th minute only for the referee to reverse the decision after consultation with the video assistant referee (VAR), was overcome by emotion on the whistle, covering his face as tears streamed down his cheeks.
For long periods Costa Rica’s flat-back five kept Neymar on the periphery, with Johan Venegas and Cristian Gamboa both man-marking him out of the game as Brazil found it hard to carve out chances in the first half.
Marcelo’s tame shot straight at Navas in the 41st minute was the first effort on target from either side before the break, and the team went into halftime with the boos and whistles of their own fans ringing in their ears.
Celso Borges spurned arguably the best chance of the first period for Costa Rica when he ran on to Gamboa’s cut back but shot wide from eight metres out.
Neymar ended the game with two holes on the sock covering his right leg – a sign of the tackles he had endured – and knelt on the pitch in tears as relief became the overriding emotion for Brazil.
The result means Brazil have avoided the ignominy of equalling their longest winless run at the World Cup.
- Philippe Coutinho 90 +0:26
- Junior Neymar 90 +6:48
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