Brazil wasted absolutely no time in proving their credentials as one of the favourites of this tournament, disposing of South Korea 4-1 after a scintillating first half performance.
In what has been a theme for much of the tournament to date, the Brazilian attackers again proved just how dangerous they are, with the South Korea defence having little answers to the likes of Richarlison, Raphinha, Vinicius Jr and Neymar Jr.
It all began with a brilliant run down the right side by Raphinha in the seventh minute, who dazzled the Korean defenders before centering the ball into the box, where Vinicius Jr set himself and calmly placed the ball in the top right corner.
It looked almost to easy for the two men, who were methodical with their build-up and calm over the ball, showcasing their elite skill in and around the box.
A mere four minutes later, and Brazil had earnt themselves a penalty, as Richarlison was fouled on the edge of the box. The returning Neymar Jr stood up to take it and calmly placed his shot into the bottom right corner, wrong-footing Kim Seung-gyu in goal.
Richarlison was named up top and terrorised the Korean defenders with his attacking runs. He seemed destined to find the net himself after winning the penalty for the previous goal and having a hand in almost all of the damaging Brazil attacks.
In the 29th minute, Richarlison did just that. A beautiful piece of aerial dribbling saw him play a pass to the edge of the box, before darting in behind the defenders.
Captain Thiago Silva played him through on goal for the easiest of strikes past Kim, Brazil’s third goal in the opening 30 minutes.
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Just seven minutes after Richarlison’s strike, Brazil caught South Korea on yet another counter-attack. Vinicius Jr gathered the ball on the wing and ran into the box before delivering a delightful chip across goal to former teammate Lucas Paqueta, who had acres of space to plant the ball in the bottom left corner for Brazil’s fourth in the opening half.
Paqueta, Neymar, Vinicius Jr and Richarlison all had chances in added time to extend their lead but couldn’t convert, with the latter’s attempt one that probably should have found the back of the net yet was denied by the Korean goalkeeper.
This opening half demolition was easily the best display a nation has shown this tournament. The Brazilians had 10 shots to South Korea’s four, including eight shots in the box in the first half alone.
The ability for Brazil to find their way into the box through skilful dribbling and pinpoint passing had shellshocked the Korea Republic, who could not provide any form of protection and potentially should have conceded more in the first 45 minutes.
The second half almost saw a turnaround straight away for the Koreans, as Son Heung-Min had an attempt on goal that was saved by Alisson.
Son’s influence on the game was kept to a near minimum through Brazil’s relentless attack, forcing him much deeper in defence then he is accustomed to.
With the damage from the first half irreversible, Brazil played a much more conservative style in the second stanza, with much of their attack stemming through Raphinha, who obviously wanted to get on the scoresheet with his compatriots.
Alisson proved his might in goal throughout the game but particularly in the second half, stopping two near certain South Korea goals, establishing his spot in the starting XI over fellow Premier League goalkeeper Ederson.
South Korea’s increased time on the ball was bound to create some results on the scoresheet, yet they knew it would take something special to get one past Alisson.
And something special it was.
A freekick was cleared at the edge of the box and fell to Paik Seung-Ho. Paik took a touch and produced a stunning half-volley, rocketing into the top right corner and well out of Alisson’s reach.
The goal was nothing more than a consolation for the Korean’s, with the game seemingly over by half-time.
The substitution of Weverton replacing Alisson in the 80th minute meant that every Brazilian player has featured at some point in this tournament, with manager Tite rotating the squad in their matches thus far and keeping fresh legs for the rest of the tournament in which they are expected to go very far.
Brazil will now look ahead to a Quarter Final match-up against 2018 runner-up Croatia, who had to resort to a penalty shootout to defeat Japan in the earlier match.
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