Philippe Coutinho and Neymar struck late as Brazil beat a gritty Costa Rica side 2-0 in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E encounter at the Saint Petersburg Arena on Friday.
After Argentina had been humbled by Croatia less than 24 hours before, there were fears that the five-time champions would be frustrated as well for they too had been held in their World Cup opener just as the Albiceleste.
With Real Madrid keeper Keylor Navas in inspired form, Neymar and Co were frustrated for the most parts of the 90 minutes.
Costa Rica had come to play, at least in the opening 45 minutes, and they very nearly took the lead in the 13th minute itself but Tite’s men somehow survived the early onslaught.
Brazil recovered from their sluggish start but with their opponents defending deep and in numbers, it was always going to be difficult to find the breakthrough.
Half-time came and Tite took a big call by changing the ineffective Willian for Douglas Costa.
The Juventus winger injected some extra pace into their attack, but with Navas in inspired form, it looked like a seconds straight draw for Neymar and Co was on the cards.
As the match progressed, the likes of Roberto Firmino took to the pitch as Tite sought to throw the kitchen sink at the Costa Ricans.
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Oscar Ramirez’s men were clearly playing for the draw and seemed to let Brazilian wave after wave crash without any effect as full time neared.
Neymar wasn’t enjoying his best-ever outing in a Brazil jersey as the world’s most expensive footballer sent an easy chance well wide of the post and while he did seem to win a penalty with little time left, the VAR system overturned the decision.
With multiple stoppages throughout the tie, it wasn’t a shock to see six added minutes on the board and Brazil made them count as Coutinho arrived at the right time in the box to toe-poke past Navas in the 91st minute.
There was still time for a second, with Costa teeing up Neymar for the simplest of finishes to make it a somewhat flattering scoreine.
With the result, Costa Rica are now eliminated as they had lost their opener to Serbia earlier in the week.
Brazil now go ahead of the Serbians, but Nemanja Matic and Co can still take top spot if they beat Switzerland in the second Group E game on Friday.