Brazil made a gigantic statement in their quest for a sixth World Cup win with an artful 4-1 demolition of South Korea in the Round of 16.
The Selecao are chasing a first World Cup trophy since Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho swept to glory in 2002 and their first-half display at Stadium 974 was worthy of being a part of that lineage.
Pele, who posted a message of support from his Twitter account saying he would watch on from his hospital bed, might also have recognised something in the wonderful verve of Brazil’s play form the moment Vinicius Jr. coolly found a seventh-minute opener.
Neymar was back from his ankle injury and converted a 13th-minute penalty, while Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta also got in on the act before halftime. Paik Seung-ho ensured the spectacular goals were not limited to Brazil, but this was still a performance to strike fear into quarterfinal opponents Croatia and the rest of the teams remaining in Qatar.
Raphinha was a livewire presence down the right wing all night and brilliantly crafted the opener. After leaving Hwang In-beom on his backside and exchanging passes with Casemiro, the Barcelona winger cut the ball back for Vinicius, who was not perturbed by a cluster of players in the goalmouth and finished high into the net.
Kim Young-gwon brought minimal contact but maximum clumsiness to a challenge on Richarlison and Neymar did the rest from the spot, rolling his penalty home after outfoxing Kim Seung-gyu.
Korea goalkeeper Kim made a succession of fine saves either side of halftime but he could do nothing when Richarlison produced the pick of the goals in the 29th minute.
The Tottenham forward engaged in some one-man head tennis briefly before dummying a pass from Marquinhos to fellow centre-back Thiago Silva. The veteran Chelsea player then laid a perfectly weighted pass on a plate for Richarlison.
Another sweeping team move saw Vinicius chip a cross for Paqueta to emphatically smash home.
Korea stuck to their task after the break and benefitted from a testimonial feel in the closing stage, which featured Brazil’s third-choice goalkeeper Weverton replacing Alisson. The Liverpool No 1 had made a couple of excellent saves from Hwang Hee-chan but had no chance when substitute Paik took aim from 25 yards. – Sporting News