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Brazil win but old questions of mental focus persist

24 Juin 2018

Neymar, who had a decent outing was left in tears at the full-time whistle, but it was an argument between Brazil forward and the match referee that grabbed attention on Twitter.

Brazil continued to apply pressure to Costa Rica, but they were unable to get a final ball into the area.

Neymar arched back as if losing his balance before falling theatrically to the ground. For most of a sunny afternoon in Saint Petersburg, the world's most expensive player battled against his own lack of match sharpness, an inspired Keylor Navas in the Costa Rica goal and referee Bjorn Kuipers. Things have never been easy in my life, it would not be now, right!

Brazil looked headed for another draw in the World Cup group stage until its biggest stars came alive late.

After the referee stopped play to attend to a Costa Rica player, Thiago Silva sportingly kicked the ball back to Brazil'a opponents.

And Brazil returned to the field with added objective after the break, with Jesus heading against the crossbar before Navas diverted Coutinho's follow-up wide.

The system has been criticized in earlier World Cup matches, and in yesterday's Denmark versus Australia game it was questioned why VAR had not led to a penalty to the Socceroos being overruled despite replays appearing to show unintentional contact by Danish player Yussuf Poulsen.

Tej became the first-ever Indian ball-boy to feature in a FIFA World Cup.

Philippe Coutinho would eventually score the decisive opening goal in the 91st minute before Neymar himself added a second from close range.

Costa Rica made their first switch, replacing Urena with Christian Bolanos before, after 57 minutes, Brazil were foiled again when Navas superbly tipped over Neymar's crisp strike.

That was an apt reflection of how tense the match had been for nearly it's entire duration, with Costa Rica's flat-back five keeping Neymar on the periphery, as Johan Venegas and Cristian Gamboa both man-marked the forward out of the game. Up next will be Serbia on Wednesday.

Tite said that Neymar, who endured a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a metatarsal injury before the World Cup, is still regaining form and full fitness as Brazil's Group E campaign unfolds.

- Neymar has scored 56 goals in 87 matches for Brazil - only Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62) have scored more.

Brazil win but old questions of mental focus persist