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Technology in cricket is making leaps and bounds and another innovation is on its way. 2018 Tamil Nadu Premier League is embracing a new technology, which is owned by former India spinner Anil Kumble. This new innovation is known as Spektacom technology. It will be used to analyze the batting by converting a normal bat into a smart one using a sticker. Here's more!
TNPL 2018: Anil Kumble's Spektacom technology to make its debut
Technology in cricket is making leaps and bounds and another innovation is on its way. 2018 Tamil Nadu Premier League is embracing a new technology, which is owned by former India spinner Anil Kumble. This new innovation is known as Spektacom technology. It will be used to analyze the batting by converting a normal bat into a smart one using a sticker. Here's more!
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho leave it late to make their class pay for Brazil in feisty victory over Costa Rica
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale This game will be remembered as the day Brazil escaped a place alongside Argentina in the danger zone with two stoppage-time goals - and as a victory for VAR, after a penalty awarded to Neymar for an innocuous hand-touch by a Costa Rica defender was overturned by Bjorn Kuipers, the referee, who acknowledged his own mistake on review. The tournament is breathing easier after the favourites, who who were mostly unconvincing - scored in stoppage time through Philippe Coutinho, their outstanding player, and Neymar, moments before the whistle. Brazil were sucked into Neymar’s private dramas throughout their second Group E fixture but the world’s most expensive footballer at least made his mark with a tap-in that sends Tite’s side into the Serbia game with a clear victory in Saint Petersburg. Neymar complained constantly to the referee about Costa Rican tackling and was in poor touch for most of the game. At the end he sat on the turf while team-mates hugged him. This Neymar fixation is not going to go away. But at least Kuipers struck a victory for justice by seeing, on his review screen, that Neymar had collapsed much too easily after Giancarlo Gonzalez merely touched him on the chest. From there, Brazil chased the win with renewed intensity. A grip around this World Cup has been that no outstanding team has yet emerged. Brazil still fall short of that description, but have plenty of scope for improvement now that a late brace of goals have soothed their nerves. They cannot, however, keep indulging Neymar. Tite, the Brazil coach, showed his ruthless side by replacing Willian with Roberto Firmino at half-time. He might need to call on it again if Neymar continues to make his right not to be tackled at the centre of all Brazil’s concerns. He should have been booked too for falling backwards after being lightly dabbed by Gonzalez. Neymar will claim the headlines again, but Coutinho was the true spirit of Brazilian football. The other major powers here in Russia will fear this was Brazil’s moment of take-off. 3:15PM The official man of the match For the second time at this #WorldCup@Phil_Coutinho takes the @Budweiser#ManoftheMatch award! #WorldCup#BRACRCpic.twitter.com/TpuF4Cxxn8— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 3:11PM Opta's statistical pointers This was Brazil’s first World Cup victory thanks to a goal scored in the 90th minute. Costa Rica are winless in their last five World Cup matches (D3 L2). Costa Rica had just three shots in this match, with all of those coming in the opening 15 minutes. Brazil’s second goal was timed at 96:49 – the latest recorded 90th minute goal in a World Cup match since 1966. Brazil’s Neymar has been fouled 14 times so far in the 2018 World Cup, more than any other player. Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil – only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more. Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four goals in his last four games for Brazil (3 goals, 1 assist), as many as in his previous 14 combined for the national side. Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 15 goals in 18 starts for Brazil (10 goals, 5 assists). 3:05PM And the VAR 'penalty' Neymar falls when touched by Gonzalez. The referee gave the penalty but then went to watch it on the touchline screen and decided it wasn't Credit: GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images 3:04PM Here's Neymar's late, late second Neymar turns in Douglas Costa's cross Credit: Michael Sohn/AP And all the tension dissipates Credit: Patrick Smith - FIFA via Getty Images 3:02PM And Coutinho's goal Coutinho pokes his shot through Navas's legs to break the stalemate Credit: LEE SMITH/REUTERS 3:01PM Here's the group table 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a landed gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale Injury time strikes from Philippe Coutinho and Neymar got Brazil's 2018 World Cup campaign off the ground in a game that will be remembered for a penalty decision being overturned by VAR. As the game approached its final 10 minutes, and with the match still 0-0, shot-shy Brazil were awarded a spot-kick when Neymar went to ground in the box. However, VAR intervened and after reviewing the Brazil striker's collapse under almost no pressure from any Costa Rica defender, the referee reversed his initial decision to award a spot-kick. The match look destined to become the first goal-less game of this summer's tournament until Coutinho popped up to score a late winner before Neymar tapped in to add a late second. Tite rushed onto the pitch and fell to the ground in celebrations. But his Brazil side have picked themselves up off the ground in this tournament and are on the cusp of the last 16. 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a stranded gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Brazil vs Costa Rica, World Cup 2018: live score updates
You are the VAR: Think you can do better than the World Cup referees? Test yourself here Which Premier League team is having the best World Cup, based on player performance? Follow Nigeria vs Iceland updates here with Alistair Tweedale Injury time strikes from Philippe Coutinho and Neymar got Brazil's 2018 World Cup campaign off the ground in a game that will be remembered for a penalty decision being overturned by VAR. As the game approached its final 10 minutes, and with the match still 0-0, shot-shy Brazil were awarded a spot-kick when Neymar went to ground in the box. However, VAR intervened and after reviewing the Brazil striker's collapse under almost no pressure from any Costa Rica defender, the referee reversed his initial decision to award a spot-kick. The match look destined to become the first goal-less game of this summer's tournament until Coutinho popped up to score a late winner before Neymar tapped in to add a late second. Tite rushed onto the pitch and fell to the ground in celebrations. But his Brazil side have picked themselves up off the ground in this tournament and are on the cusp of the last 16. 2:58PM The referee used VAR to overturn a penalty decision How would you have seen it? test - do not delete 2:57PM Full time Brazil leave it very late but class wins out at the end after they were frustrated for 90 minutes and their anger was in danger of distracting them. 2:55PM 90+7 min Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Turning in Douglas Costa's square pass on the halfvolley with his left after terrific set-up play from Coutinho. 2:54PM GOAL!! Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica Neymar is off the mark at the death. 2:53PM 90+6 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Neymar plays keepie-uppie out by the corner flag and knocks it up with a flick, a kangaroo leap with the ball clamped between his ankles a la Hunt and Carr for Coventry. 2:52PM 90+4 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica The goal has made the ball round again for Brazil and they begin to chassé their way through the box with subtle touches and deft passes. Neymar links up with Firmino who blasts his shot wide. Fernandino comes on for Gabriel Jesus 2:50PM 90+3 min Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica We begin the first of six minutes of added time. Firmino heads Marcelo's deep left-wing cross back across goal to Jesus who takes a touch, by no means a good one, and he turns to try and reach it and shoot. Coutinho, though, in like a train is better-placed, screams at him to leave it and fires his shot from about 8m through Navas's legs. Brazil 1 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 90 + 1 min) 2:47PM GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Coutinho! 2:47PM 90 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica The cross is sent into the box and Navas is fouled by Firmino as they go up for it. 2:46PM 88 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar, fouled again, has great gaping holes in his socks to show where he's been hacked at. Marcelo, coming in to get the ball to take the free-kick quickly, hands off a Costa Rica player who throws himself to the grass and flip-flops like a stranded gurnard. 2:44PM 87 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro shoots from 20m and spoons a daisycutter straight down Navas's throat. 2:43PM 86 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gabriel Jesus, waiting for the ball to drop in the box and get a shot away, is tackled by Neymar who has been infected by messiah syndrome and believes only he can deliver. 2:42PM 84 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho has also been booked for dissent. Brazil are lined up in a 2-4-4 and giving it the kitchen sink but Costa Rica are restricting them by cutting off space in the box. 2:40PM 82 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is chopped down on the right but the referee plays the advantage as Brazil pour into the box but they're crowded out and Navas fields Duarte's sliced clearance. Tejeda replaces Guzman. 2:37PM 80 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo's cross hits Acosta in the stomach and winds him. Neymar goes spare that Acosta won't get up so he punches the ball into the turf and is given a deserved yellow card. 2:36PM Penalty overtured by the referee He went over to have a look at it and decided the contact wasn't firm enough to knock Neymar over. Neymar looks utterly bemused. He was patted in the stomach and then did the dying swan. 2:35PM Penalty to Brazil Gonzalez hold Neymar mid-dribble in the box. VAR will have a look but he was fouled even though he dived as well. 2:34PM 76 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar tries to nutmeg Duarte with a sharply-taken shot but it hits the ankle of the defender and goes out for a corner that Neymar takes. Easily defended and in the breakdown, as Costa Rica usher it clear, Neymar again goes sprawling under Duarte's challenge but the referee deems it fair, much to Neymar's ire. 2:31PM 74 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar trips Venegas by the touchline and the break for the free-kick allows Costa Rica to send in Calvo for Celtic's Gamboa. 2:30PM 72 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A miss from Neymar. Duarte fires his clearance straight at him 30m out and he accelerates from first to sixth gear in one shimmy and burst. As he approaches the box he decides to go early and bends a right-foot thunderbolt about 50cm wide and the same distance over. Out: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 72 min) 2:28PM 70 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of Brazil corners, so much wrestling at the first but the referee doesn't intervene. Casemiro meets the second one with a half-powered glancing header that trickles through to Navas. A striker on his toes should have nipped in there to divert it past the keeper. 2:25PM 68 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Firmino replaces Paulinho. Looks like Argentina disease - too many cooks here and too few midfielders. Ruiz stands up a cross, Venegas heads back across goal and Miranda saves the day by beating Bolanos. 2:23PM 66 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Roberto Firmino strips off his tracksuit and prepares to come on. 2:22PM 64 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar spins a right-foot cross from the left, arcing towards the six-yard box. Paulinho leaps to try to flick it in with his right-foot and catches Duarte in the face. Free-kick to Costa Rica. 2:20PM 62 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar drives a low left foot shot from the left angle of the box at Navas. A routine save, unlike ... Navas turns Neymar's shot over Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi 2:18PM 60 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos, who led a break and then misplaced a pass, takes the resulting corner. Neymar is given a final warning for yapping just before it's taken and the referee even makes a mouth puppet of his hand to make the point. The corner is headed up vertically by a Brazil defender and Ruiz attempts a flying scissor kick volley 90 degrees from the Earth, but he can't connect properly and Brazil bundle it away. 2:16PM 58 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Now Paulinho sets up Coutinho to shoot from the edge of the box but it skips off the turf just as he was about to hit it which made it difficult to control. He prods the bobbling ball more than genuinely striking it and toe-pokes it low and down the keeper's throat as he dived forward to gather. 2:14PM 55 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica What a save by Navas. Neymar, slipping behind Acosta on the right, takes Paulinho's cute pass and flays a shot towards goal, and the Real Madrid keeper soars to his left to claw it behind. Attempt Saved: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Neymar, 56 min) 2:12PM 52 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Bolanos replaces Urena for Costa Rica who spent 20 seconds in Brazil's half for relief before Brazil ran them down and set forth on another attack. They have been demonstrably fired up at half-time. 2:09PM 49 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Much better from Brazil - Gabriel Jesus rattles the crossbar with a header from Douglas Costa's shot and Paulinho has to wait fore it to drop, allowing Gonzalez to steal some of his room. Eventually he sends it back away from goal and Coutinho threads a shot through a forest of legs and Navas scrambles the ball behind for a corner. 2:06PM 48 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A chaotic penalty box interlude. Paulinho chases down Oviedo's weak back pass to Navas and the keeper has to stand up to the pressure and belt it clear. He mishits it out to the left and Gabriel Jesus crosses it to the back post where Neymar goes up with the keeper and jumps into him. Free-kick. 2:04PM 47 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa is standing on the whitewash on the right and Neymar hugs it on the left, trying to open up the field. 2:03PM 46 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Douglas Costa has replaced Willian on the right of Brazil's attack. Makes sense. Willian's touch and timing had been horrendous. 1:54PM Paul Hayward's take Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:53PM The half-time shots tally Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal Brazil vs Costa Rica shots on goal 1:49PM Half-time Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Guzman takes the free-kick, putting far too much on his cross and wahcking it over the box. The referee blows for time and Macelo gives him a piece of his mind. Thiago Silva intervenes to lead Marcelo away. Brazil improved but they need to accentuate the pass and geometry in the second-half and ramp down on the solo dribbling. 1:46PM 45 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Gamboa employs the universal mime language for 'dive' when Neymar sprawls headlong after a well-time sliding tackle. The referee tells Neymar to get up and Costa Rica break rapidly up the right where Borges is fouled. 1:44PM 44 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Paulinho in miles of space down the right, fires in an early cross that Neymar, not anticipating it coming so soon, just couldn't reach. Brazil recycle on the left and Guzman saves the day with a vital tackle on Willian. They try a different tack, going over the top with a right-to-left diagonal but Neymar goes too soon and is flagged offside. 1:42PM 42 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Marcelo, who should have been booked for a cynical shirt pull to stop a counter a minute ago, cuts in off the left and shoots with his swinger, sending a Barnes-Wallis of a pogoing shot safely into the arms of his Real Madrid chum Navas. 1:41PM 39 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Brazil corner on the right, won by Gamboa's interception. Paulinho goes down in the box when the cross comes in but his penalty appeals are ignored even though he was manhandled across the throat by Duarte. Costa Rica break quickly up the right and outnumber Brazil ... until Urena fails to read the pass, goes early and is caught offside. Possession: Brazil vs Costa Rica 1:38PM 37 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Costa Rica are showing no vissble strain from the recent siege of the their goal but they are betraying the pressure they're under with a series of fouls. They almost break up the right with Borges and Venegas but the latter overhits his release pass for Urena and Alisson sweeps up. 1:36PM 35 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian failed to stun a heavy pass, fumbling it into touch, provoking a wince from every Brazilian present and an orgy of praise from Clive Tyldesley to Glenn Hoddle - 'You would have won 100 caps if you'd been Brazilian'. Messrs Junior, Falcao, Zico and Socrates beg to differ. 1:34PM 32 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Great defending from Oviedo and Acosta when Neymar raced up the byline and stood up a cross into the six-yard box. They refused to yield an inch to Willian and Gabriel Jesus and squeezed them out of space. 1:32PM 29 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica A pair of shots from outside the box, left of centre. The first from Marcelo is thrashed across goal and wide of the far post. Half a minute later Coutinho cuts back on to his right as he speeds towards the area and goes for the right-foot curler that sneaks in at the far post, a goal he has scored a dozen times. But though he sends it out wide of the post, this time it doesn't veer in or dip in time. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 30 min) 1:29PM 27 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Terrific pass from Coutinho from the centre over Duarte on the right of he Costa Rica defence. Neymar gives chase and gets there a fraction of a second before Navas but can only stab his shot at the goalkeeper as he tried to go over him. Navas's speed off his line and bravery saved his side there. 1:27PM 25 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Coutinho is caught by Borges but unseen by the referee. Brazil break from midfield, Neymar flying up the right and cuts it back to Marcelo who shoots, hits Gabriel Jesus in a position in which he's 2m offside. The striker traps it and buries a shot past Navas but up goes the flag. Offside. 1:24PM 23 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar shoos everyone away and takes the free-kick himself, driving it low and flat diagonally from the right aimed for Thiago Silva peeling off round the back. He does connect with the header but bludgeons it wide. 1:22PM 21 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Hardly seen anything of Gabriel Jesus and Paulinho. And Costa Rica look electric down the right. Here's Jesus now going up against Duarte 30m from goal and Duarte catches his knee. 1:21PM 19 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar scoops the ball over his head by the touchline and turns Venegas, sprints on and goes down when Venegas shoves him over to thwart further progress. Neymar takes the free-kick, like he did a minute ago, and Costa Rica defend the cross into the box very comfortably. A combination of good positioning, strength and poor delivery. Coutinho covers his mouth to complain to the referee - presumably that Venegas wasn't booked for his persistent fouling. Neymar tries to get away from Venegas Credit: REUTERS/Henry Romero 1:18PM 16 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Neymar looks very rusty and trots from side to side, looking for a suitable berth from which he can influence the play. He is fouled on the left - doesn't look much but the cumulative effect of Switzerland's treatment and the couple of niggly ones here will effect him as he toils for match fitness after recovering from that broken foot. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Celso Borges, 13 min) 1:15PM 14 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Chance for Costa Rica! And a golden one too from the free-kick on halfway. Venegas slides a pass down the right for Gamboa, who won the free-kick from Neymar who fouled him after giving the ball away. Gamboa gambols into the space habitually vacated by Marcelo and pulls back a cross from the byline to the penalty spot to meet Borges' run perfectly but the midfielder screws his shot a metre wide of the left post. 1:12PM 12 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Casemiro briefly leaves us to stem a nosebleed on the touchline received when wearing a ball flush in the puss and Brazil play keepball in his absence until Neymar, of all people, loses it with a clumsy touch. 1:11PM 10 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Up come Miranda and Thiago Silva and Neymar aims for them, bending a right-footer into the box but Gonzalez and Duarte have them covered and head it away. 1:10PM 8 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Willian and Fagner combine down the right again and though Ruiz stops the first thrust and seems to be fouled by Fagner a split-second after he intercepted the return from Willian but the ref doesn't concur. When the ball falls kindly for Willian he drops to the floor when a Costa Rica defender breathes on him and Brazil have a free-kick wide on the right, a couple of metres beyond the area. 1:07PM 5 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Better from Ruiz who is playing tucked in on the left and turns quickly to receive the goalkick and hook it on to Urena who storms through the middle but runs out of space, isolated from his support runners, and Miranda and Thiago Silva hound him down. 1:05PM 4 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Fagner injects some urgency and sprints forward and hits a low outswinging cross that Gabriel Jesus snatches at and fires his shot into the defender from 15m. Ruiz makes an error with his clearance and gives it to Coutinho who flays a right-foot shot over the bar from the right of the D. Miss: Brazil 0 - 0 Costa Rica (Coutinho, 3 min) 1:03PM 2 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Wee Fagner attacks up the right, taps it up to Willian who is clipped by the former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz. Brazil go backwards from the free-kick, play it across the defence and make laboured progress back up the right. 1:01PM 1 min Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica Here we go, Brazil, their half in sunshine, attacking towards the darkness. There's something profound in that. 1:00PM Brazil in their beautiful blue away kit Obtusely underrated by fashion's Thom Gibbs: World Cup kits ranked 12:58PM As do the Costa Ricans Blanca y pura descansa la paz. Peace rests white and pure. 12:56PM Marcelo gives the Brazil national anthem Some proper gusto in his singing. Terra adorada! Entre outras mil És tu, Brasil Ó Pátria amada 12:54PM Out come the teams And Thiago Silva is today's beneficiary of Tite's rotating captaincy. Imagine what the armband fetishists among the Fleet Street 'dukes' would have to say about that if it happened with England at a tournament. 12:40PM Since the last World Cup Keylor Navas has won three Champions Leagues, a Liga, a Spanish Super Cup, three Fifa Club World Championships and two Uefa Super Cups. And still he doesn't convince many critics. Keylor Navas warms up to face Gabriel Jesus and co Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images 12:37PM Martin O'Neill on Lionel Messi 'Best player I've ever seen. He needs to find space for himself. He does that all the time. He can do it. He's playing as if he has a great weight, as if has a concern [that he needs to win the World Cup to make him a true great]. I'm the first to say he doesn't but he's playing as if he does. 12:26PM Cut out the 90 minutes and go straight for the result Play the predictor. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 12:25PM And with tournament history Brazil Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar. World Cup record: Brazil Costa Rica Navas; Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte; Gamboa, Borges, Guzman, Oviedo; Bryan Ruiz, Venegas; Urena. World Cup record: Costa Rica Referee Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). 12:22PM And in the Fifa format #BRACRC The teams are in for the first match of the day! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/OwQiIh2PY0— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 22, 2018 12:22PM And Costa Rica also make one change Sunderland's Bryan Oviedo comes in for Francisco Calvo. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 12:15PM Here are you teams Brazil make one change ... at right-back, Fagner for Danilo. Tite knows I suppose but I think they're going to need Renato Augusto in the later stages and it would have been good to give him a run today. OFFICIAL XI vs Costa Rica: Alisson; Fágner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.#Russia2018— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) June 22, 2018 11:33AM Preview: Brazil must become the collective once again Friday’s opening match pits a nation with five World Cups against a team that has only beaten them once in 10 meetings in a fixture someone will no doubt call the Copo de Café. Brazil, for it is they, won nine of the previous meetings, including victories at the 1990 World Cup (1-0, by virtue of Muller’s goal in Turin) and the 2002 tournament (5- 2 with Ronaldo scoring two, Edmilson, Rivaldo and Junior one each though Costa Rica fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2 just after half-time). I was all set to regale you with the tale of how Costa Rica have held the PanAmerican Championship bragging rights for 58 years since recording their sole victory in San Jose in 1960, but that scoundrel, Rob Smyth, once of this place, hared out of the blocks this morning and breasted the tape with his piece while I was still trying to make sense of the stuff coming out of the Google translate mincer. So I won’t repeat his work, suffice to say Costa Rica, quarter-finalists four years ago, have no significant history of beating Brazil and even their one win came against a scratch side devoid of its 1958 World Cup winners who stayed at home. So let us focus, instead, on Brazil’s manager Tite and what he should do today. He got here by being as much a pragmatist as his predecessors but introduced one crucial change he refined at Corinthians that has re-established midfield as the power train of the team. Luiz Felipe Scolari deployed flying full-backs as the creative motor of his side, stationing two holding midfielders in front of the centre-backs, a forceful, hard-running centre-forward ahead of wide men and a 10. Hulk and Oscar were no one’s idea of wingers but they started on the flanks and cut in to leave space for the bombing Dani Alves and Marcelo. Dunga tried variations of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 but could never get the balance right. Tite, who made Brazil a whole once more Credit: Getty Images By contrast Tite had stuck with largely the same personnel yet turned them into a coherent whole. Renato Augusto, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, was already in Dunga’s side but has been transformed into a deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mode by Tite who used him there for Corinthians. During four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, he played behind the strikers but in this withdrawn role he dictates the tempo and runs the game. Behind him sat Casemiro or Fernandinho and to his right the recalled Paulinho. These three roles were the heart of the new Brazil, a holder, a playmaker and a box-to-box raider just as Ralf, Jadson and Elias drove Corinthians on. With Neymar to the left, Philippe Coutinho or Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus or Roberto Firmino through the middle they have the flexibility to spring from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3 and, with Paulinho’s lung-bursting runs, something approaching the 4-2-4 that makes the heart sing. But against Switzerland Tite dropped Renato Augusto, moved Coutinho into midfield from where he scored a terrific goal. The change, however, left the side unbalance and the motor clogged up, piddle in the petrol tank. Brazil do not have midfielders of Gerson’s quality or Socrates’ or Falcao’s, but Tite did have a functioning system in which the players understood their assignments and had the confidence to trust the coach’s judgment. Last March Paulinho scored a hat-trick in a 1-4 victory over Uruguay in Montevideo arriving each time with the judicious timing of a player who reads the game fluently. As we saw at the typically bombastic Barcelona unveiling in August, Paulinho may not be able to execute pointless tricks with precision but stick him in a match and he plays with poise and intelligence. In addition Tite had addressed the reliance on Neymar by sometimes, paraphrasing Barry Davies’ immortal line, “using him by not using him”. “The collective empowers the individual,” the coach says. “If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another.” You can tell by the tears when Tite praised him last week and pledged his support, that Neymar, caricatured as a prima donna, is anything but in a canary shirt. Note that the collective ‘empowers the individual’ but only to serve the collective and Neymar buys into this. Brazil have to get back to that today and could begin by using the system that transformed their fortunes over the past two years. The World Cup is no place for experimentation and stroking the egos of nine-figure transfer-fee talents.
Erik Durm steht offenbar kurz vor einem Wechsel zu Premier-League-Klub Huddersfield. Dort würde er auf seinen ehemaligen Coach David Wagner treffen.
Transfergerücht: BVB-Profi Erik Durm steht vor Wechsel zu Huddersfield Town
Erik Durm steht offenbar kurz vor einem Wechsel zu Premier-League-Klub Huddersfield. Dort würde er auf seinen ehemaligen Coach David Wagner treffen.
Goal takes a look at the biggest transfer news and rumours from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and beyond
Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Man Utd want Jordi Alba
Goal takes a look at the biggest transfer news and rumours from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and beyond
From France 98 through to the present day, these are the 95 occasions that a Prem star featured at a World Cup and scored
Quiz! Can you name every Premier League player to score in a World Cup since 1998?
From France 98 through to the present day, these are the 95 occasions that a Prem star featured at a World Cup and scored
Raheem Sterling said that despite Manchester City's historic Premier League winning season, his daughter only cares about his old team.
Sterling: my daughter is Liverpool through and through!
Raheem Sterling said that despite Manchester City's historic Premier League winning season, his daughter only cares about his old team.
A round-up of the latest gossip and signings in the Premier League transfer window as Manchester United secure the services of Fred
Premier League transfer round-up: Emre Can leaves Liverpool
A round-up of the latest gossip and signings in the Premier League transfer window as Manchester United secure the services of Fred
A round-up of the latest gossip and signings in the Premier League transfer window as Manchester United secure the services of Fred
Premier League transfer round-up: Emre Can leaves Liverpool
A round-up of the latest gossip and signings in the Premier League transfer window as Manchester United secure the services of Fred
A round-up of the latest gossip and signings in the Premier League transfer window as Manchester United secure the services of Fred
Premier League transfer round-up: Emre Can leaves Liverpool
A round-up of the latest gossip and signings in the Premier League transfer window as Manchester United secure the services of Fred
A round-up of the latest gossip and signings in the Premier League transfer window as Manchester United secure the services of Fred
Premier League transfer round-up: Emre Can leaves Liverpool
A round-up of the latest gossip and signings in the Premier League transfer window as Manchester United secure the services of Fred
Innenverteidiger Caglar Söyüncü hat die Gerüchte um einen Abschied vom SC Freiburg befeuert. Der Türke strebt einen Transfer in die Premier League an. Derweil könnte der Brasilianer Jonathas Hannover 96 verlassen und in seiner Heimat anheuern. Der VfL Wolfsburg sieht sich auf der Suche nach einem Verteidiger in Brasilien um. Hier gibt es die wichtigsten Transfergerüchte zur Bundesliga im Überblick.
Bundesliga: News und Gerüchte - Söyüncü: "Ich hoffe auf einen Transfer zu Arsenal"
Innenverteidiger Caglar Söyüncü hat die Gerüchte um einen Abschied vom SC Freiburg befeuert. Der Türke strebt einen Transfer in die Premier League an. Derweil könnte der Brasilianer Jonathas Hannover 96 verlassen und in seiner Heimat anheuern. Der VfL Wolfsburg sieht sich auf der Suche nach einem Verteidiger in Brasilien um. Hier gibt es die wichtigsten Transfergerüchte zur Bundesliga im Überblick.
Andy Cole reveals how he managed to become the third highest scoring player in the Premier League with 187 goals.
Andy Cole reveals the secret to scoring 187 Premier League goals
Andy Cole reveals how he managed to become the third highest scoring player in the Premier League with 187 goals.
Andy Cole reveals how he managed to become the third highest scoring player in the Premier League with 187 goals.
Andy Cole reveals the secret to scoring 187 Premier League goals
Andy Cole reveals how he managed to become the third highest scoring player in the Premier League with 187 goals.
Andy Cole reveals how he managed to become the third highest scoring player in the Premier League with 187 goals.
Andy Cole reveals the secret to scoring 187 Premier League goals
Andy Cole reveals how he managed to become the third highest scoring player in the Premier League with 187 goals.
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
How Ruben Loftus-Cheek became primed to start for England at a World Cup
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
How Ruben Loftus-Cheek became primed to start for England at a World Cup
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
How Ruben Loftus-Cheek became primed to start for England at a World Cup
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
How Ruben Loftus-Cheek became primed to start for England at a World Cup
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
How Ruben Loftus-Cheek became primed to start for England at a World Cup
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling: My journey from helping mum clean hotel toilets to playing for England at a World Cup
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling: My journey from helping mum clean hotel toilets to playing for England at a World Cup
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling: My journey from helping mum clean hotel toilets to playing for England at a World Cup
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling: My journey from helping mum clean hotel toilets to playing for England at a World Cup
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Goal takes a look at the biggest transfer news and rumours from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and beyond
Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Man Utd want Jordi Alba
Goal takes a look at the biggest transfer news and rumours from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and beyond
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
SUEÑO | Raúl Jiménez desearía regresar al América en el futuro
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
SUEÑO | Raúl Jiménez desearía regresar al América en el futuro
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
SUEÑO | Raúl Jiménez desearía regresar al América en el futuro
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
SUEÑO | Raúl Jiménez desearía regresar al América en el futuro
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
Andy Cole has a different opinion to most on the amount of foreign players in the Premier League
Andy Cole on The 32
Andy Cole has a different opinion to most on the amount of foreign players in the Premier League
Britain Football Soccer - Everton v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League - Goodison Park - 16/17 - 4/2/17 Everton's Ramiro Funes Mori Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff
Everton's Ramiro Funes Mori
Britain Football Soccer - Everton v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League - Goodison Park - 16/17 - 4/2/17 Everton's Ramiro Funes Mori Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff
Britain Football Soccer - Everton v Sunderland - Premier League - Goodison Park - 25/2/17 Everton's Ramiro Funes Mori warms up before the game Reuters / Andrew Yates Livepic/Files
Everton's Ramiro Funes Mori warms up before the game
Britain Football Soccer - Everton v Sunderland - Premier League - Goodison Park - 25/2/17 Everton's Ramiro Funes Mori warms up before the game Reuters / Andrew Yates Livepic/Files
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
How Ruben Loftus-Cheek became primed to start for England at a World Cup
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
How Ruben Loftus-Cheek became primed to start for England at a World Cup
This time last year, the 22-year-old was on his summer holidays after a season of zero Premier League starts at Chelsea. Now, after a stellar campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, hes in line to start for his country on the biggest stage of all
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling: My journey from helping mum clean hotel toilets to playing for England at a World Cup
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling: My journey from helping mum clean hotel toilets to playing for England at a World Cup
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling: My journey from helping mum clean hotel toilets to playing for England at a World Cup
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Raheem Sterling: My journey from helping mum clean hotel toilets to playing for England at a World Cup
Raheem Sterling has revealed his incredible journey from helping his mother clean hotel toilets to becoming an England World Cup star. Writing for The Players’ Tribune website, Sterling has described his move from Jamaica as a five-year-old and his upbringing in London before rejecting Arsenal to start his football career at Queens Park Rangers. Sterling wrote: “When I was two years old, my father was murdered. That shaped my entire life. Not long after that, my mum made the decision to leave me and my sister in Jamaica and go to England so she could get her degree and give us a better life. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but my mum was hustling in her own way, trying to make a better life for us. When I was five years old, we moved to London to be with her, and that was kind of a tough time because the culture was very different from what I was used to and we didn’t have much money. My mum always made sure we had what we needed, but let’s just say it wasn’t The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, know what I mean? “My mum was working as a cleaner at some hotels to make extra money so she could pay for her degree. I’ll never forget waking up at five in the morning before school and helping her clean the toilets at the hotel in Stonebridge. I’d be arguing with my sister, like, ‘No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets’. Raheem Sterling's gun tattoo is dedicated to his murdered father Credit: pa “The only good part about it was that my mum would let us pick anything we wanted from the vending machine when we finished. So you know I was going straight for the Bounty bar every time.” Sterling’s energy on the football pitch can be traced back to his primary school days, when, by his own admission, he struggled to concentrate. “I was probably driving my mum mental. It wasn’t that I was bad bad, I just didn’t want to listen,” he wrote. “I didn’t want to sit still and hear what the teacher was saying, mate! What are we talking about today - subtraction? Come on. Not having that. I’d be staring at the clock dreaming of break time. Eat a bit of food, then head straight outside. Running about in the mud, pretending I’m Ronaldinho. That’s all I cared about. “I was so naughty that they kicked me out of primary school. Well, actually, that’s not totally true. Technically, they didn’t kick me out. They just told my mum that I needed to be in an environment with more attention. They put your man in a little classroom with six kids and three teachers! Not joking. There was nowhere to hide. “The worst part was the bus used to pick us up and drop us off every day. So I’ll never forget, I was riding the bus one day, looking out the window, and I saw all these other girls and boys walking to school on their own, having a laugh. And that really hit me, and I thought, I want to do that. I want to be like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just quiet. I just didn’t like to listen to anyone but my mum. That was my problem. “If I really think hard about it, the moment my life changed was when I met a guy named Clive Ellington. He used to mentor the kids in our neighborhood who didn’t have their fathers around. On the weekend, he’d take us on little trips around London and show us a different side of life. Sometimes we’d just go play snooker. Basically, anything that wasn’t our day-to-day. He genuinely cared about us. So one day he sat me down and he said, ‘Raheem, what do you love to do?’ “Simple, simple question, right? But I never really thought about it like that. At that point, I was just playing football in the street, biking around with my friends, being a kid. I said, ‘I love playing football’. Raheem Sterling opened up for The Players’ Tribune website “He said, ‘Well, I got a little Sunday League team. Why don’t you come out and play with us?’ And that was it. That moment changed my life. From that day, it was football, football, football. Obsessed. Totally obsessed.” Sterling has revealed how Arsenal were one of the first clubs that wanted to sign him, but that his mother had the final say on his first steps towards becoming a Premier League title winner with Manchester City. “When I was 10 or 11, I was getting scouted by some big clubs in London,” he wrote. “Fulham wanted me. Arsenal wanted me. And when Arsenal want you, of course you’re thinking you gotta go there. Biggest club in London, you know? So I’m running around telling my mates, ‘I’m off to the Arsenal!’ “But my mum is a proper warrior. She knows how to make it in this world. She’s probably the most streetwise person I know. She sat me down one day and she said, ‘Look, I love you. But I don’t feel you should go to Arsenal’. I said, ‘Ehhhh?’ “She said, ‘If you go there, there’s going to be 50 players who are just as good as you. You’ll just be a number. You need to go somewhere where you can work your way up’. She convinced me to go to QPR, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. At QPR, they didn’t let me slip up. “And you know what’s crazy? I grew up in the shadow of my dream. Literally. I watched the new Wembley stadium go up from my back garden. One day, I walked outside and I saw this massive arch in the sky. It was rising up over the top of the housing estates like a mountain. I used to kick about in this green right by my house, and I could take a shot on goal and then turn round to celebrate and the Wembley arch would literally be right above my head. It was like you were there. I was really like, 'I can play there. I can do it'.” Sterling defied the doubts of at least one of his teachers to play for England Under-16s, which helped him catch the attention of Liverpool when he was 15 years old. “Liverpool wanted me, but it was three hours away from home,” wrote Sterling. “And I’ll never forget sitting my mum down and telling her that I wanted to go. I love all my friends from my neighborhood. They’re still my best friends in the world. But at that time, there was a lot of crime and stabbings going on, and I felt like Liverpool was a chance for me to go away and just focus on football. Raheem Sterling left London for Liverpool to escape crime “My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore. The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. “If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home. And her son plays for England. I’m telling you right now... England is still a place where a naughty boy who comes from nothing can live his dream.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Goal takes a look at the biggest transfer news and rumours from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and beyond
Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Man Utd want Jordi Alba
Goal takes a look at the biggest transfer news and rumours from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and beyond
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
SUEÑO | Raúl Jiménez desearía regresar al América en el futuro
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
SUEÑO | Raúl Jiménez desearía regresar al América en el futuro
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
SUEÑO | Raúl Jiménez desearía regresar al América en el futuro
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me quedan unos 'añitos' en Europa, pero...
SUEÑO | Raúl Jiménez desearía regresar al América en el futuro
​Las Águilas del ​América siguen peinando el mercado en busca de un delantero y verían con buenos ojos el retorno de uno de sus hijos pródigo, Raúl Jiménez, el cual conquisto el Clausura 2013 y el Apertura 2014, y aunque el atacante azteca acaba de firmar con los Wolves de la Premier League, confesó que le gustaría regresar algún día al conjunto azulcrema. “Sí, la verdad que sí me gustaría (regresar al América) en un futuro, ahorita todavía yo creo que me qu