Home » Brazil see off Serbia; Portugal & Switzerland win; Uruguay held
Sports

Brazil see off Serbia; Portugal & Switzerland win; Uruguay held

The first round of group stage fixtures at the 2022 World Cup is in the books.

Thursday saw the final eight teams get their first run-outs in Qatar, with heavy hitters Brazil and Portugal among those in action.

Here’s how it all went down.

Pre-tournament favourites Brazil rounded off the first batch of group stage fixtures with an impressive 2-0 victory over Serbia.

The Serbian defence was too tough to break down in the first half but Tite worked his magic at the break as Brazil leapt to life in the second 45.

Richarlison

Richarlison bagged the goals / Markus Gilliar – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

Richarlison to the rescue

Alex Sandro hit the post from range before Richarlison, who had been quiet in the first half, wheeled away in celebration after tapping home a rebounded Vinicius Junior strike.

It might have been a scrappy first, but there was nothing but class about Richarlison’s second as he rose to meet a cross with a sumptuous bicycle kick that flew into the back of Vanja Milinkovic-Savic’s net in the blink of an eye.

Casemiro nearly added a third from range but Brazil didn’t need any more as they strolled to an easy victory.

Portugal got their campaign off to a nice start with a 3-2 victory over Ghana that ended up being a thoroughly entertaining affair.

Fernando Santos’ side were the top team in the first half but their slow pay rarely yielded any results, although Cristiano Ronaldo did have a goal ruled out for a foul. With only two minutes of stoppage time after the first 45, you can tell it wasn’t particularly eventful.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal survived a scare / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

A tale of two halves

Fortunately for the neutrals, the game came into life in the second half and Ronaldo opened the scoring from the penalty spot on the hour mark, but their lead lasted just eight minutes as Andre Ayew tapped in from close range to tie things up.

Parity was even briefer as Joao Felix netted down the other end almost straight after, and then Rafael Leao added a third almost straight after. It looked as though the fun was over, but far from it.

Osman Bukari netted a late header and Ghana nearly snatched an unbelievable equaliser right at the end of stoppage time as Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa threw the ball to the ground to line up a kick… without realising Inaki Williams was waiting behind him.

Williams snatched the ball and looked set to tap home one of the most outrageous World Cup goals ever, only to slip and end up losing possession.

Uruguay and South Korea went head to head in an entertaining game in the first Group H fixture of this World Cup, a clash that was played at a good tempo and fiercely competitive.

There were actually no shots on target during the 90 minutes, the first time that has happened in a World Cup game this century – the previous lowest was two when Portugal and Ivory Coast drew 0-0 back in 2010. However, Uruguay did strike the woodwork multiple times.

Both teams worked hard in this game

Both teams worked hard in this game / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

The Uruguay mantle is passing

With a glittering career mostly behind him, Luis Suarez looked every bit a player who will shortly turn 36. The veteran has been playing club football back in Uruguay for the past few months and looked significantly off the pace, struggling to press and hold the ball up.

Edinson Cavani, not quite as old as Suarez, was a noticeable upgrade in the second half.

Conversely, Darwin Nunez had a decent game. The 23-year-old Liverpool forward moved well and took up good positions. Diego Alonso potentially has a decision to make ahead of facing Portugal.

Switzerland made the perfect start to their World Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over Cameroon.

There were half-chances at both ends in the opening 30 minutes with Switzerland dominating possession but Cameroon being a big threat on the counter-attack.

The decisive goal came just a couple of minutes into the second half, as Breel Embolo swept home Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross past the despairing Andre Onana.

Switzerland celebrate Breel Embolo's goal against Cameroon

Switzerland celebrate Breel Embolo’s goal against Cameroon / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Switzerland see off plucky Indomitable Lions

It was an entertaining game at Al Janoub Stadium as Switzerland and Cameroon both showed a willingness to attack.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Martin Hongla had good chances saved by Yann Sommer in Switzerland’s goal, while Nico Elvedi flashed a header wide from a corner after Embolo had fluffed his lines when through one-on-one.

But after Manuel Akanji headed wide just before half-time, the Swiss caught Cameroon napping – Embolo sweeping home from Shaqiri’s byline cross.

Cameroon’s verve and energy faded as the game entered the latter stages, giving Switzerland the perfect start in a group that also contains tournament favourites Brazil and Serbia, who are backed by some to go far despite their dreadful record at recent World Cups.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Categories

Newsletter

Loading