Brazil beats South Korea, advancing to World Cup quarter-finals for 8th consecutive time
Neymar scores 76th international goal in 4-1 win, 1 away from Pele's all-time record
It was the same old Neymar out there, looking fit and scoring a goal to move closer to Pele's all-time record and lead Brazil into the World Cup quarter-finals.
Neymar returned from injury and converted a first-half penalty in Brazil's 4-1 win over South Korea in the round of 16 on Monday. He reached 76 goals with the national team, one shy of the mark set by Pele, who said he would watch the match from his hospital bed in Sao Paulo.
The 82-year-old Pele is recovering from a respiratory infection that was aggravated by COVID-19, leaving fans in Brazil and in Qatar worried about his condition. Neymar carried a banner with the soccer great's image and "Pele" written on it after the match, and the entire team then posed behind it near midfield.
Neymar damaged ligaments in his right ankle in the team's opening match against Serbia and at the time there were doubts if he would play again at the World Cup. He was clearly back, and there were no signs of the injury as he led Brazil to a comfortable victory and a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals for the eighth straight time.
Brazil will next play Croatia on Friday.
Just one more Quarter-Final fixture remains to be decided 👀 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FIFAWorldCup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FIFAWorldCup</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Qatar2022?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Qatar2022</a>—@FIFAWorldCup
Neymar scored his first goal of this year's World Cup after kissing the ball and calmly sending a low shot from the spot after waiting the goalkeeper to choose a side in the 13th minute. He danced as his teammates huddled around him, then did dance moves along with Vinicius Junior and other teammates before raising his arms to the sky and smiling broadly.
Neymar was forced out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after getting hurt in the quarter-finals.
Fans chanted his name as he walked off the field after the match. He had been substituted in the 81st.
Vinicius Junior scored the first goal from inside the area after a cross by Raphinha in the seventh minute, Richarlison added to the lead from close range after a nice exchange of passes by the Brazilians in the 29th, and Lucas Paqueta scored the fourth before halftime after an assist by Vinicius Junior.
Paik Seung-ho scored South Korea's goal in the 76th minute.
"We gave everything," said Son Heung-min of South Korea. "Brazil is the favourite, look at their players. If you give them spaces they score. I'm so proud of what we've done and I don't want to blame any of our players because they gave everything."
There were many banners and shirts honouring Pele at Stadium 974, and fans chanted the Brazil great's name and opened a large banner with his image behind one of the goals in the 10th minute of each half. Pele used to wear the No. 10 jersey.
It was the last World Cup match at Stadium 974, which is expected to be fully dismantled. The port-side structure that seats more than 40,000 fans was partially built from recycled shipping containers and could be shipped to other countries that need the infrastructure.