Coutinho-Neymar rescue Brazil’s World Cup bid
Philippe Coutinho and Neymar scored in stoppage-time to hand Brazil a dramatic 2-0 win which knocked Costa Rica out of the World Cup and featured yet more VAR controversy.
The tournament favorites labored for long periods and looked to be heading for a disappointing draw when the Barcelona playmaker struck, stabbing home from close range after Gabriel Jesus had miscontrolled substitute Roberto Firmino’s header in the box.
Neymar then turned home Douglas Costa’s cross to give a gloss to the scoreline Brazil their performance did not entirely merit after a largely frustrated display punctuated by Neymar’s anger at his treatment from the Costa Rica defense.
Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers initially awarded a 78th-minute spot-kick after Giancarlo Gonzalez put his hand on the Paris Saint-Germain star’s shirt as he checked back in the box.
However, Kuipers reversed his decision upon review, adding to the irritation Neymar had exhibited throughout a hard-fought and occasional attritional contest in which he was on the receiving end of several strong tackles.
Neymar was booked for dissent shortly afterwards, continuing a long-running battle with the officials which began with a series of robust first-half challenges that went unpunished.
The Paris Saint-Germain star waited in the tunnel at the interval to confront Kuipers over his treatment but in truth, of greater concern to Brazil coach Tite was his team’s inability to consistently disrupt a well-organized Costa Rica defense.
He replaced Willian with Douglas Costa at the break and Brazil resumed with greater purpose. Gabriel Jesus hit the crossbar, Coutinho and Neymar went close before the controversial penalty incident.
Neymar ended the game with two holes on the sock covering his right leg - a sign of the tackles he had endured - and knelt on the pitch in tears as relief became the overriding emotion for Brazil.
Source: Evening Standard