Brazilian forward Richarlison. Photo: twitter.com/cbf_futebol

By MARK LORENZANA 

Brazilian forward Richarlison came through for his team in Qatar after teammate Neymar suffered an ankle injury and limped off the field, giving the Seleção a 2-0 win against a tough and physical Serbian team on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 24 (Mexico City time).

Richarlison, who also plays for Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, initially scored up close on a soft tap-in, but followed the easy goal with an impressive acrobatic shot that sent the Brazilian fans in the Lusail Stadium — the biggest soccer stadium in Qatar, with a capacity of nearly 90,000 — into a frenzy.

Serbia’s goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic put on a brave show as he gamely blocked countless shots at goal, but he could only do so much against a Brazilian squad with too much firepower.

The obvious dampener on this win by the Brazilians, however, was the aforementioned injury to Neymar, who tweaked his right ankle during the match and was later seen in tears on the substitutes’ bench. Neymar, who was repeatedly fouled in the game, then gingerly walked to the locker room with a swollen ankle.

Brazil’s national team physician confirmed after the match that Neymar had suffered a sprained ankle, although the team’s manager said he believes the star player would play again in Qatar — without specifying if the Paris Saint-Germain forward would be available for the Seleção’s next match against Switzerland.

On the same game day, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player ever to score in five World Cups after netting a penalty against Ghana in the 64th minute, helping his team grab a 3-2 win.

It was a redemption of sorts for Ronaldo, the aging superstar who is currently unemployed, after a falling out with Premier League club Manchester United. Portugal team manager Fernando Santos even hinted before the World Cup that Ronaldo wouldn’t be an automatic starter for the team.

At age 37, at the twilight of his career, and despite Ronaldo saying that this will be his final World Cup, the soccer legend can, evidently, still play. As recently as his stint last season for the Premier League, he was his club’s top scorer with 18 goals. This year, before leaving his team, he managed to score three goals and recorded two assists.

Meanwhile, in the two other matches in Group H and Group G, Uruguay and South Korea settled for a scoreless draw in their match, earning one point apiece, while Switzerland scored a close win against Cameroon, 1-0.

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