By AP and published by Yahoo!sports
Lusail, Qatar – Richarlison scored two goals, the second with a spectacular acrobatic kick, to help Brazil beat Serbia 2-0 on Thursday at the World Cup.
In the 73rd minute, the striker used one touch to get the ball up in the air and then spun around and got off the ground before knocking the ball into the net with his right foot.
Brazil had struggled to get past the Serbian defence until Richarlison scored from close range in the 62nd in a buildup that started with Neymar.
Vinicius Junior assisted on both goals.
Neymar, seeking his first major title with Brazil, stayed at 75 goals for the national team, two shy of Pele’s scoring record.
Brazil coach Tite started with an attack-minded squad that included four forwards – Neymar, Vinicius Junior, Raphinha and Richarlison. Attacking midfielder Lucas Paqueta played alongside Casemiro, the lone defensive midfielder.
But Serbia had several players back and was able to keep Brazil from creating many significant opportunities. Neymar tried to control the pace but struggled to find space up front. He, Vinicius Junior and Raphinha all squandered chances early on.
Brazil’s best chance before Richarlison’s opening goal had been a low long-range shot by Alex Sandro that hit the post in the 60th. Neymar had his best opportunities with a free kick in the 50th and a shot from near the penalty spot in the 55th.
The 30-year-old Neymar arrived at his third World Cup as Brazil’s main attraction. He helped the “Selecao” win the 2013 Confederations Cup and its first Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, but has yet to win a major title with the national team.
Brazil, trying to win its first World Cup in two decades, is unbeaten in its last 20 opening games, with 17 victories. It has finished first in its group in the last 10 World Cups.
In the other Group G match, Switzerland defeated Cameroon 1-0.
Brazil and Serbia also played in the group stage in 2018, with Brazil also winning 2-0 to reach the next stage at Serbia’s expense.
Since competing as Serbia in 2010, the country has not advanced to the knockout rounds of the World Cup.
Ronaldo makes World Cup history, Portugal beats Ghana 3-2
The Portugal striker became the first male player to score at five World Cups with his 65th-minute penalty in a 3-2 win over Ghana on Thursday.
Days after his contract was terminated at Manchester United following a tell-all interview, he let his soccer do the talking at the start of likely his final World Cup.
“This was a beautiful moment,” Ronaldo said. “The world record, the only player to score in five World Cups, makes me very proud.”
Wheeling away after the ball struck the back of the net to give Portugal a 1-0 lead, a smiling Ronaldo performed his usual leap and swivel in the air – the crowd roared his trademark “SI-UUU” as he did the pirouette – before getting mobbed by teammates.
He has now scored in every World Cup since his first in 2006, when a penalty against Iran started his run of goals in the tournament that’s now up to eight in 18 matches. He has a men’s record of 118 international goals.
“I think Cristiano is a phenomenon, a legend,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “In 50 years, we will continue to talk about him.”
His latest scoring record adds to the lustre of a resume that should ensure Ronaldo receives plenty of offers from new clubs after splitting with United on Tuesday. That came after he gave an unauthorised interview to Piers Morgan criticising the manager, owners and his teammates at the English club.
His fraught buildup to the tournament didn’t appear to affect Ronaldo against Ghana, even though he wasted two clear-cut chances in the first half.
“It was a week that finished this chapter (with United),” Ronaldo said. “It is closed and now I want to start with the good foot forward. We started, we won, I want to help my team and all the rest does not matter.”
Ronaldo ended the match with his head in his hands in pure relief after Ghana almost snatched a draw in the ninth minute of stoppage time thanks to a piece of ingenuity.
In the last action of the game, Ghana striker Inaki Williams hid behind Diogo Costa as the Portugal goalkeeper rolled the ball on the ground and prepared to clear it. Williams dispossessed Costa and, despite slipping, managed to poke the ball toward goal.
Portugal defender Danilo raced back and cleared the ball away from near the line as Ronaldo, who was sitting in the dugout after being substituted, watched in disbelief.
All the goals came in a wild final half-hour, with Andre Ayew equalising for Ghana eight minutes after Ronaldo converted his penalty after tumbling under a challenge by Mohammed Salisu.
Ghana coach Otto Addo called the penalty “a special gift from the referee.”
Joao Felix regained the lead for Portugal in the 78th minute following a through-ball by Bruno Fernandes, who then set up Rafael Leao to add a third. Osman Bukari reduced Ghana’s deficit in the 89th, celebrating in comical fashion by performing Ronaldo’s “SI-UUU” twirl.
None of the five African teams at the World Cup won their first match in the group stage. Ghana lost, like Senegal and Cameroon, while Tunisia and Morocco drew their games. “They didn’t win but I saw they could compete with the opponent,” Addo said. “I hope we can improve.”
Inaki Williams made his first competitive start for Ghana, a day after his brother, Nico, came on as a substitute for Spain in a 7-0 win over Costa Rica. Inaki Williams switched allegiance this year from Spain to Ghana, which is the country where his parents were born and left decades ago while his mother was pregnant with him.
Top: Brazil’s Richarlison scores his 2nd goal vs Serbia. Photo : AP and published by India Today
Insert: Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during the World Cup group H soccer match between Portugal and Ghana, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, on Nov. 24, 2022. Photo: AP Photo/Francisco Seco and published by Yahoo!sport
Front Page; Teammates celebrate with Brazil’s Richarlison after he scored his second goal during the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil and Serbia, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Photo: AP /Thanassis Stavrakis and published by Yahoo!sport