Magic, it was sheer magic. A goal that blended ballet, athleticism and acrobatics can only be magic: the creation of an exceptional talent. Richarlison’s goal was indeed a magical moment in the Qatar World Cup. A moment that will be replayed endlessly. One that will find a place in the iconic moments of the World Cup.
It started innocuously as Vinicius Junior cut from the left and squared the ball to Richarlison, who was inches away from the penalty spot. The Brazilian, who had his back to the Serbian goal, could have spun around and shot, but the pass was a bit fast. What Richarlison did next was pure wizardry.
Football gave way to ballet. Richarlison calmly flicked the ball up, and as it fell over his shoulder, he swivelled and unleashed a mid-air acrobatic volley. Power combined with precision. The ball flew into the Serbian goal. It was stunning. Spectacular. Explosive. A genius strike.
The singing, heaving Lusail Stadium erupted into a deafening roar as the footballers in yellow and blue banded together on the pitch, dancing and singing. A typical Brazilian celebration. A celebration that echoed around the world.
The second goal was the crowning moment that gave way to torrents of attacks. Richarlison, Vinicius, Luis Paqueta and Neymar were benched soon. Antony, Gabriel Jesus, Fred and Rodrgyo came on. Later Gabriel Martinelli replaced Raphinha. Nothing seemed to alter the tempo. There was no let up in the shots fired at the Serbian goal, and a Casemiro shot shook the woodwork. The display of Brazilian firepower was frightening.
The Serbians kept out the marauding Brazilians for 62 minutes in the Group G fixture. Much of the game was played in Serbia’s half, with the defence holding up well. For a while, the Brazilians looked stale, and Richarlison had gone missing so much that Gabriel Jesus looked like a better option.
Before such thoughts died, Neymar’s jinking run into the penalty box splayed the Serbian defence. Vinicius lashed a shot that was blocked by the Serbian goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic. Richarlison pounced on the rebound and slammed it home. A redeeming moment for the forward and Brazil.
The goal buried the demons of Richarlison’s poor season with the Tottenham Hotspurs. With the millstone off his neck, it was time to create magic. He doubled it with a stunning bicycle kick that pushed the Brazilians into a higher gear. Soon they began to play like the favourites. Like the world number one team. With verve and vigour, they lorded over the field.
A classic Brazilian performance indeed. So dominant, yet delightful. Powerful and pleasing. That’s Samba style. The Selecao are here with a new arsenal, eager to banish the bitter memories of the last 20 years.
Move over, Neymar. De Andrade Richarlison has arrived.