The Brazil men’s national football team has fought a fierce battle to see off Costa Rica in its second game at the preliminary round of the 2018 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Russia.
On Friday, the Brazil squad, nicknamed Canarinho (Little Canary), won the Group E match at the St Petersburg Stadium 2-0 with goals scored in stoppage time.
Even though Brazilian footballers had more of the possession and more of the shots in the first half, they could not turn their dominance into goals as the Costa Rica squad put up a spirited fight and defended so well.
Canarinho’s 21-year-old forward Gabriel Jesus even buried the ball in the back of the net after 26 minutes, but his side’s first goal was then disallowed and ruled offside by Dutch referee Björn Kuipers.
Both sides had chances in the second half, but could not direct their shots on target.
Brazil thought it had been awarded a penalty with 12 minutes left, when the referee pointed to the spot after Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, commonly known as Neymar, came down following a brief tangle with Costa Rica’s defender Giancarlo González.
Kuipers, however, reconsidered his decision after consulting the video assistant referee (VAR) and stated that there had been no meaningful contact.
Finally, Brazil’s substitute Roberto Firmino headed a cross back into the middle and Jesus toe-poked the ball away from a defender. Philippe Coutinho adeptly grasped the marvelous opportunity and smashed home from close range in the first minute of added time to break the deadlock.
In the dying seconds, Neymar jabbed Brazil’s second goal when he volleyed into an empty net from a few yards out.
During the official 2018 FIFA World Cup draw ceremony at Kremlin State Palace in the Russian capital city of Moscow on December 1 last year, the host nation, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay were put in Group A in the preliminary round of the tournament.
The Iran men’s national football team, nicknamed Team Melli, has joined Portugal’s A Selecção, Spain’s La Furia Roja and Atlas Lions of Morocco.
France is drawn in Group C, and is pitted against Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria are drawn in Group D.
Group E consists of Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
While the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea shape Group F, Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England are in Group G.
Group H has Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place from June 14 to July 15. Russia opened the event against Saudi Arabia in a Group A fixture at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. The hosts won the match 5-0.
A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities.