After more than 90 minutes of aggravation and exasperation, Neymar and Brazil finally broke through Costa Rica’s smothering defence.
Philippe Coutinho scored in the first minute of stoppage time, and Neymar followed six minutes later to give Brazil a 2-0 victory over Costa Rica on Friday at the World Cup.
Unlike Argentina and Lionel Messi, Brazil is still in a good position to advance to the round of 16. Costa Rica has been eliminated.
‘’The responsibility is huge when you are playing for the national team,’’ Coutinho said through a translator. ‘’You have to be mentally strong from the beginning until the end. We fought until the end and we were rewarded.’’
Neymar dropped to his knees after the final whistle, sobbing in his hands as his teammates surrounded him and then lifted him off the ground.
‘’We know he had a difficult injury, he went through a very bad patch,’’ Coutinho said, referring to Neymar breaking a bone in his right foot four months ago.
‘’But his joy at being on the pitch is contagious.’’
A few minutes before the end, Neymar flopped backward to initially earn a penalty, but the contact was so exaggerated that the referee reversed the call after using video review. Neymar then angrily punched the ball a short time later as Costa Rica’s players tried to waste time. It earned Brazil’s biggest star a yellow card.
Neymar seemed panicked for most of the second half as his shots sailed over the bar or simply missed the mark, and he complained over nearly every call. In danger of ending in a draw, Brazil seemed nervous but composed itself through the seven minutes of injury time.
Coutinho was first to get the ball past goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Rising superbly to meet a header from Marcelo’s cross, Roberto Firmino nodded the ball down to striker Gabriel Jesus, who then flicked it to a sprinting Coutinho in the penalty area.
In the seventh minute of injury time, Douglas Costa whipped in a cross from the right and Neymar deftly tapped it into the net.
Both Firmino and Costa had come on as substitutes in the second half.—AFP