By Gharny Yeku
Brazil delivered a frightening statement to their World Cup rivals with a dazzling display of attacking grandness to take apart South Korea and set up a quarter-final against Croatia.
Neymar made a return to action with a goal after injury at Stadium 974, but Brazil’s superstar was only one element of a devastating performance that ripped South Korea to shreds and settled this last-16 game well before half-time.
Vinicius Junior set the tone with a composed penalty-area finish from Raphinha’s cross after seven minutes, and PSG star Neymar doubled Brazil’s advantage from the spot six minutes later following a foul on Richarlison.
It was Neymar’s 76th goal for Brazil leaving him just one goal behind the legendary Pele’s record.
Richarlison then added to his personal showreel of great goals at this World Cup when he followed his incredible volley against Serbia with a real work of art, controlling the ball three times with his head and foot before moving into position take Thiago Silva’s pass in his stride and score.
Brazil went four up with another gem after 36 minutes, Vinicius picking out Lucas Paqueta for West Ham’s expensive acquisition to score with a well-placed volley.
South Korea, to their great credit, continued to compete and forced several fine saves from Brazil goal-keeper Alisson, before substitute Paik Seung-ho pulled one back with a superb 30-yard strike to add to the night’s collection of special goals.
Brazil will now be heavy favourites against Croatia after putting down a marker with the best display – or at least 45 minutes before they eased up – by any team in Qatar so far.
Brazil faces Croatia on Friday in a quarter-final match.