A brace from Richarlison — which included a superb acrobatic goal — saw Brazil open their world cup campaign with a 2-0 win against a resolute but ultimately outclassed Serbia side.
Brazil controlled proceedings early on but struggled to crack the Serbian rearguard for the first hour, their best chances being a pair of tame Raphinha efforts that failed to beat Serbian shot-stopper Vanja Milinković-Savić.
When Alex Sandro’s thunderous effort crashed off the woodwork, you began to wonder if it would be Brazil’s night. But just after the hour mark, Brazil found a breakthrough courtesy of Tottenham Hotspur forward Richarlison, who was the first to pounce on a rebound in the box after Milinković-Savić had parried a powerful strike from Vinícius Júnior.
If Richarlison's first goal was a pure poacher’s finish, the second was a thing of beauty —his attempt to control a Vinícius Júnior pass saw the ball loop up, and instinctively he manoeuvered his body and produced a sensational overhead kick that flew past the Serbian keeper.
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Brazil could have added to their tally but ultimately ran out comfortable 2-0 winners. Brazil will look to build on this win when they take on Switzerland next, while Serbia will hope to bounce back against Cameroon.
Expected goals (xG): Brazil 1.95, Serbia 0.28
Unsurprising, considering Brazil tallied 21 shots in the game while Serbia mustered just six. Brazil had eight efforts on target, but Serbia failed to test Brazil keeper Alisson — only two of their six efforts were deemed on target, both of which were blocked shots from outside the box.
Man of the Match: Vinícius Júnior, Brazil
The Real Madrid winger played a major part in both of Richarlison’s goals and provided the assist for the second.
Vinícius is renowned for his dribbling ability and proved that in this game, winning five of his six dribble attempts. He also completed 87.5% of his passes and won 100% of his duels.
While it wasn’t his most clinical night in front of goal — just one of his three shots hit the target — his on-target effort led to Richarlison’s first goal.
Best Passer: Marquinhos, Brazil
Marquinhos was a probing presence. From his position at the heart of Brazil’s back four, he completed 95% of his 65 passes. He also completed five of his six line-breaking pass attempts, including a defensive-line-breaking pass. Marquinhos' and Thiago Silva's ability to be so progressive with their passing from center-back is a huge asset to Brazil.
Best Challenger: Casemiro, Brazil
Casemiro was his usual disruptive self from Brazil’s holding midfield position. Overall, he won 61.54% of his challenges, including three of his six aerial duels and all three of his 50-50s. Opponents attempted to dribble past him on three occasions, with Casemiro twice coming out on top.
Milinković-Savić can hold his head high in defeat. He saved six of Brazil's eight shots on target. He can count himself a bit unlucky with the first goal after saving smartly from Vinícius Júnior's initial effort and could do little but admire the second as it flew past him.
Alisson was little more than a spectator as Serbia failed to test him with any attempts on goal.