Soccer

Brazil start with a bang; Portugal win thriller and Uruguay held

We have reached day five of the World Cup and there were four more matches from Qatar.

Richarlison brilliance sees off Serbia

Scorers: Richarlison 61′, 74′

Two goals from Richarlison saw a vibrant Brazil side start in style against Serbia on Thursday night.

The Seleçao had to wait until the 26th minute for their first attempt at goal in a scoreless opening half – the second longest they’ve waited to do so in a World Cup game since records began in 1966.

Ten minutes after the break, Neymar skewed wide after being picked out in the centre of the area before Alex Sandro thundered against the post with a swerving strike from 30 yards out.

But Brazil wouldn’t be denied for long and after great work in the area from Neymar, Vinícius Júnior curled a strike at goal which Milinković-Savić saved, only for Richarlison to follow up for the opener and his eighth goal in his last seven caps.

He then took that tally to nine 13 minutes later with the goal of the tournament so far, producing a stunning acrobatic overhead kick after a brilliant first-time touch.

Casemiro crashed against the bar in the closing stages on an impressive opening showing, with the only blot on the copy book being a concerning ankle injury for Neymar.

Record-breaking Ronaldo on the spot

Scorers: Ronaldo (PEN) 64′, Joao Felix 78′, Leão 80′; Ayew 73′, Bukari 89′

Portugal and Ghana played out a thrilling 3-2 encounter on Thursday as the Seleçao came away with all three points in their World Cup opener.

Despite a tumultuous week off the pitch, Cristiano Ronaldo started for Portugal and captained the side as they aimed to start their campaign off with a win.

It was the unattached striker who had the best chance early on as he bared down on goal but a poor touch saw the Ghanaian goalkeeper smother the ball.

Otto Addo’s side were sticking to their gameplan of sitting deep and allowing Portugal the ball, and with nearly 20 minutes gone it was working a charm.

Portugal thought they had scored on the half hour mark but Ronaldo’s finish was disallowed after the referee saw a foul in the build-up.

Into the second half and Ghana were trying to be a little more proactive going forward but after 50 minutes had struggled to show any real quality in the final third.

Ghana finally did have a shot on goal, through Mohammed Kudus, but the midfielder’s fine daisy-cutter went just wide of the right-hand post.

But on 64 minutes, Portugal had the chance to take the lead. A very soft penalty was given after a foul on Ronaldo and the Ballon d’Or winner blasted home from 12 yards.

Amazingly though, Ghana got an equaliser. Andre Ayew was in the right place at the right time and tapped home from close ranger after a cross from the left.

A game that was turgid at best in the first half had now burst into life. And Portugal were soon ahead again.

João Félix was played in by Bruno Fernandes and the Atletico Madrid finished cooly from inside the area.

Just moments later, it was three. Rafael Leão had only been on the pitch a few minutes but latched on to a Bruno Fernandes pass and calmly slotted home.

This mad second half wasn’t done however, as Osman Bukari headed in at the far post to pull one back for Ghana with one minute of normal time remaining.

Uruguay and South Korea play out goalless draw

Group H looks wide open after Uruguay hit the post twice but were held to a 0-0 draw by South Korea on Thursday.

South Korea looked looked the more threatening side in the first half and had the game’s biggest chance, with Hwang Ui-Jo firing over after receiving a cutback totally unmarked near the penalty spot.

But that was as much as they threatened at any point, with Uruguay probably leaving the game the more disappointed side.

The South American side had two half-chances of note before the break, with Darwin Núñez coming close to steering home a Facundo Pellistri cross and Diego Godín striking the foot of the post with a fine header.

A cagey second half was short on inspiration, though Núñez continued to look lively. A driving run to the byline and low cross forced a parry from Korean goalkeeper Seung-gyu Kim from the Liverpool man and he threatened again on 80 minutes but his effort from range both went wide and was not quite wayward enough for a stretching Edinson Cavani to steer it towards goal.

As the clock hit 89 minutes and Uruguay upped the ante, Fede Valverde cracked the near post with a superb effort from distance, but that is as close as either side came to a winner as they kicked off their World Cup campaigns.

Switzerland suppress Cameroon

A functional Switzerland side squeezed out a 1-0 win over Cameroon.

Switzerland delivered the first major test when Breel Embolo was fed in from the wing, and although he looked to have been bundled over in the box, play was stopped for an offside.

It was soon Cameroon’s turn for a big chance as Bayern Munich’s Choupo-Moting was played through on goal, but defender Manuel Akanji just did enough with a physical challenge in the box.

Akanji had great opportunity to put his side ahead just before half time, leaping high to deliver a header from a corner, but the Manchester City man couldn’t get enough contact on the ball to direct it towards goal.

The Swiss had the breakthrough just two minutes after the second half though, as Remo Freuler played a cross across the box for Breel Embolo to fire home.

Embolo was about to get his second as he got ready to strike the ball from a corner, but Cameroon midfielder André-Frank Zambo Anguissa made a superb last-ditch clearance to deny him.

After the goal, Switzerland shut up shop and stifled any creativity from Cameroon, doing enough to see out the win.

Find details of yesterday’s matches here.

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