Richarlison scores another impressive goal for Brazil. Photo:


Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar on Monday, Dec. 5, returned from an ankle injury to help his team cruise against South Korea, 4-1, and advance into the World Cup quarterfinals in Qatar.

The Seleção scored early in the match, at the seventh minute, courtesy of a goal by Vinícius Júnior, and then Neymar got in on the action shortly via penalty kick in the 13th for Brazil’s second goal.

For his part, foward Richarlison, who has been showcasing his individual soccer wizardry throughout the tournament, scored another impressive goal. In an unbelievable sequence, the Tottenham Hotspur forward bounced the ball several times on his head to keep possession, with the South Korean defender trying with all his might to intercept. When the ball landed, Richarlison passed it to his teammate, ran towards the goal, got the ball back and then knocked it into the net past Kim Seung-gyu, South Korea’s goalkeeper.

It was the third goal in this World Cup for Richarlison, who scored brace in Brazil’s match against Serbia on Nov. 24.

Overshadowing Brazil’s success in this tournament so far is the news of soccer legend Pelé’s health. The three-time world champion, considered as the greatest soccer player of all time, was diagnosed with colon cancer last year and confined to a hospital last week. There had been conflicting reports coming from the Brazilian press that Pelé was no longer responding to treatment, and had instead been admitted to a hospice. His daughters, however, denied the reports, and said that their father wasn’t in terminal condition as reported in the news.

In the other match, Croatia ended Japan’s magical run in the first penalty shootout of the tournament. Japan missed three spot kicks during the shootout, while Croatia only missed one.

Samurai Blue actually scored the opening goal, 1-0, in the 43rd minute when Daizen Maeda — who also plays for Scottish Premiership side Celtic — found the net on a left-footed kick. In the 55th minute, however, winger Ivan Perisic scored on a header to tie the game.

What followed next was a tense game, but neither team could break the deadlock, and the shootout ensued.

Japan’s loss, however, doesn’t change the fact that its Cinderella run has been one of the most remarkable runs in recent World Cup history. Hajime Moriyasu, Japan’s coach, has said before the tournament began, though, that the team’s goal was to make it into the quarterfinals.

Croatia will instead face Brazil in the next round, in a match that will be played on Friday, Dec. 9.

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