Brazil turned on the style, dancing their way to a one-sided 4-1 win over South Korea in their World Cup round-of-16 match at Qatar’s Stadium 974 on Monday.
Vinicius Junior, Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta were all on the scoresheet in a dominant first half as Brazil cruised into a quarterfinal matchup against 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia on December 9.
Neymar, who had missed Brazil’s final two group games after picking up an ankle injury against Serbia, and Danilo returned to the starting XI for Tite with the Selecao continuing their quest for a sixth World Cup title.
With 82-year-old Brazil legend Pele cheering the team from hospital while recovering from a respiratory illness, Vinicius wasted no time putting his side ahead, settling a cross from Raphinha that found him unmarked at the back post and calmly curling a shot into the side netting.
“Let’s hope we can carry on dancing all the way to the final,” Vinicius said. “And we are also sending a big hug to Pele. Let’s hope he recovers quickly.”
South Korea’s Jung Woo-Young fouled Richarlison in the area minutes after the opener to give Neymar a chance to double the lead. The Paris Saint-Germain star made no mistake from the spot, sending goalkeeper Kim Seung-Gyu the wrong way to make it 2-0 inside of 15 minutes.
The goal was Neymar’s 76th for Brazil, leaving him one short of tying Pele for most goals scored in the country’s famous yellow jersey.
“We’re dreaming of the title, of course,” Brazilian talisman Neymar said. “Today was the fourth game, there are three left. We’re very focused on getting that title.”
Richarlison made it 3-0 before the half-hour mark, sliding the easiest of finishes into the South Korean goal following some brilliant individual skill and clever interplay with Thiago Silva at the top of the penalty area.
For their fourth goal of the first half, Brazil hit a helpless South Korea with a counter-attack that saw Neymar feed Vinicius, who in turned scooped a cross for the onrushing Paqueta to sidefoot home with his first touch.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min forced a great save from Alisson just after the restart and Raphinha was twice denied at the other end as he looked to add to Brazil’s tally.
Despite holding Brazil goalless in the second half and scoring a stunning late consolation goal through Paik Seung-Ho, the damage was already done as South Korea’s World Cup came to an end against the high-flying tournament favourites.
Following the match, Brazil players took a group photo and held up a banner picturing Pele to wish him well.