Brazil were unconvincing in the first half but came to life after the restart with two injury-time goals securing a 2-0 victory over Costa Rica at the Saint-Petersburg Stadium on Friday.
- Brazil 2 Costa Rica 0
- Jesus denied by the woodwork
- VAR overturns Brazil penalty
- Coutinho pounces in stoppage time
- Neymar seals win at the death
Tite’s side were flat in the opening 45 minutes, but showed their class in the second half as they sent wave upon wave of attacks on the opposition goal.
Gabriel Jesus hit the crossbar while Keylor Navas was in great form for Los Ticos. A penalty was overturned by VAR before Philippe Coutinho proved to be the hero as he poked home one minute into stoppage time. At the death, Neymar got Brazil’s second with a tap-in.
The opening 10 minutes produced little goal-mouth action with Costa Rica defending in numbers and producing plenty of aggressive tackling to ruffle Brazilian feathers.
In the 13th minute Los Ticos nearly snatched a shock lead on the break as Cristian Gamboa sprinted forward down the right and pulled the ball back to a wide open Celso Borges in space.
However, with the goal gaping, the Deportivo de La Coruna midfielder failed to pick his spot and the ball dribbled wide of the post with Alisson looking relieved.
Oscar Ramirez’s men were continuing to employ a robust approach as Neymar was brought down late on a couple of occasions, which seemed to rattle the Paris Saint-Germain star.
The Selecao were struggling to break Costa Rica down or create chances, although they had the ball in the back of the net in the 26th minute, but the offside flag cut short their celebrations.
After Neymar’s jinking run, the ball dropped to Coutinho and he shot towards the target. Yet, the ball fell to Gabriel Jesus, who converted from an offside position.
Just before the break, Marcelo broke forward in characteristic fashion from left-back and struck an effort from 25 yards out which was saved with ease by Navas.
After the interval, the South Americans came out with a greater sense of purpose and came close to the opening goal. In the 48th minute, Navas raced out to clear but his clearance went straight to Paulinho, who got his head up and chipped to Neymar at the far post. With the goal at his mercy, the forward got the ball caught under his feet and Navas flew back to smother.
In the 50th minute Coutinho blasted one wide of the target before Jesus hit the crossbar with a header soon after from a cross from the left. As such, it appeared just a matter of time before the first goal would arrive for the Brazilians.
In the 57th minute Douglas Costa burst down the right and he pulled back a cross towards Neymar, whose first-time shot was tipped over the bar superbly by Navas.
After another sweeping move a minute later, the ball was fed to Coutinho from around 18 yards out, but he fired straight at the keeper.
Costa Rica were defending in numbers and were relying on occasional counter-attacks, though they never really seemed threatening. In the 72nd minute Neymar danced in from the wing and found space, but his strike whistled inches wide of the top corner.
Brazil were awarded a penalty in the 78th minute when Oscar Duarte was judged to have pushed Neymar, though it was overturned after a VAR review.
Nonetheless, the pressure finally paid dividends in injury time as Marcelo swung in a cross from the left, which Roberto Firmino headed back towards Jesus, whose first touch dropped to the onrushing Coutinho and he toe-poked home between the legs of Navas.
With virtually the last kick of the game, Costa set up a sitter for Neymar to tap home and get his first goal of the tournament.