These were not the streets of Doha, but we had been miraculously transported into the bowels of trance-like Rio de Janeiro. Brazil, according to veteran Thiago Silva “played the best football I’ve seen Brazil play” and put this contest out of Korea’s reach within the first 45 minutes.
The Selecao fans already had a clue of the party and had come dressed in their best – rainforest armadillos, men with colorful manes and women in colorful ensembles and even a yellow dinosaur from the Mesozoic era. There were three tripping merrymakers too, a sight not seen in Qatar before.
The goals came in a bounty and no one could have stopped this Brazilian bash. The unlucky Koreans were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The first goal was Raphinha’s creation as he stripped his opponent of the ball near the right touchline and ignored a tackle before centering it inside. A number of Brazilian bodies missed his delivery but Vinicius Junior was there, relatively unmarked, and he cheekily lifted it over the keeper who stormed out in vain to distract the Real Madrid forward.
And when Richarlison was hacked, Neymar jogged, stopped and jumped to roll in the next as Kim Seung-gyu dived the other way. The night for Korea Republic looked long as the Brazilians’ attack created every geometric angle you could ever imagine.
And when the Koreans made a rare attack as Hwang Hee-chan did in the 17th minute with a 30-yard curler, Alisson Becker was there and flew over to tip it all over. Brazil now evoked the memories of the Jogo bonito of the past and you could hear the nostalgic “ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo” of disbelief as the Koreans were taught a game of feints, flicks and dribbles. This football cannot be learned, but comes with your genes that are only available to those from the land of the shape-shifting Amazon.
Brazil were playing on their own, the 11 at the other end mere mannequins to slip past during the Christmas shopping, and Richarlison bounced the ball like in a game of head tennis and ran into the six-yard box. He put the third on the side when Casemiro’s return eluded others to reach his inviting feet.
The Brazilians danced (even coach Tite) and this was not just the spinning of your hips, but a ballet where all the senses were tickled. Lucas Paqueta’s volley from a Vinicius pass completed the run in the first half as the Korean pocket behind his goal tried hard to lift his team’s spirits.
The fans were mesmerized by the magic of the football shamans and the game should have had the option of mercy killing to call this early and spare the helpless opposition.
But Son Heung-min soon tested Alisson as Korea came back with a little more purpose. And the debonair keeper saved again from Hwang Hee-chan who had aimed down the left.
The Korean band with their drums finally had something to play for when Paik Seung-ho rocketed his long-range effort past Alisson, who had also been as brilliant as his outfield players.
Korea in this second half had the chances to stretch this game, but it lacked Brazil’s ruthlessness.
This Monday, the Brazil team sent a message of love and support to the ailing king, and this wasn’t just the banner that was finally unfurled.
The result: Brazil 4 (Vinicius Jr 7, Neymar 13 pen, Richarlison 29, Paqueta 36) bt South Korea 1 (Paik 76).