Sochi, June 23: Philippe Coutinho and Neymar Junior scored late in the second half as Brazil ensured their passage to the second round with a hard-earned 2-0 win over Costa Rica in a Group E clash of the FIFA World Cup here on Friday.
Both Brazilians struck in the second half added time at the Saint Petersburg Stadium to hand the five-time World Cup winners their first victory in the tournament.
Costa Rica managed to hold fast for the full 90 minutes of normal play thanks to a solid display from goalkeeper Keylor Navas but one minute into stoppage time, Barça’s Coutinho rescued Brazil, driving through the defense to attack a loose ball in the penalty area, smashing it home between the legs of the Real Madrid man between the posts.
Then, in the dying embers of stoppage time, of which there were six minutes, Neymar, who was yet to score at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, connected to a simple cross to tap home and seal the game.
At the final whistle, the most expensive player in the world broke into tears of relief in the center of the pitch.
Brazil, one of this year’s favourites to win the trophy, all but secured its place in the knockout stages of the competition, recovering from a 1-1 draw in its opening match against Switzerland, who in turn is to meet with Serbia in the evening kick-off.
Costa Rica put on a tough display in the first half knowing that a loss would essentially resign them to booking an early ticket home, but the players tired towards the end of the 90 minutes and succumbed to the relentless attacking tactics of the Brazilians.
Brazil, who now top the table with 4 points, is set to play Serbia on Jun 27 in its final Group E match.