Brazil's players shows a banner in support of Brazilian soccer legend Pele at the end of the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and South Korea, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
It was the same old Neymar out there, looking fit and scoring a goal to move closer to Pelé’s all-time record and lead Brazil into the World Cup quarterfinals.
Neymar returned from injury and converted a first-half penalty in Brazil’s 4-1 win over South Korea in the round of 16 on Monday. He reached 76 goals with the national team, one shy of the mark set by Pelé, who said he would watch the match from his hospital bed in Sao Paulo.
The 82-year-old Pelé is recovering from a respiratory infection that was aggravated by COVID-19, leaving fans in Brazil and in Qatar worried about his condition. Neymar carried a banner with the soccer great’s image and “Pelé” written on it after the match, and the entire team then posed behind it near midfield.
South Korea was trying to advance past the round of 16 for the first time since its historic run to the semifinals as a co-host in 2002.
Neymar damaged ligaments in his right ankle in the team’s opening match against Serbia and at the time there were doubts if he would play again at the World Cup. He was clearly back, and there were no signs of the injury as he led Brazil to a comfortable victory and a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals for the eighth straight time.
Brazil will next play Croatia on Friday.
Neymar scored his first goal of this year’s World Cup after kissing the ball and calmly sending a low shot from the spot after waiting the goalkeeper to choose a side in the 13th minute. He danced as his teammates huddled around him, then did dance moves along with Vinícius Junior and other teammates before raising his arms to the sky and smiling broadly.
Neymar was forced out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after getting hurt in the quarterfinals.
Fans chanted his name as he walked off the field after the match. He had been substituted in the 81st.
Vinícius Júnior scored the first goal from inside the area after a cross by Raphinha in the seventh minute, Richarlison added to the lead from close range after a nice exchange of passes by the Brazilians in the 29th, and Lucas Paquetá scored the fourth before halftime after an assist by Vinícius Júnior.
They celebrated each goal by dancing, and even Brazil coach Tite participated in Richarlison’s traditional “pigeon” celebration.
Paik Seung-ho scored South Korea’s goal in the 76th minute.
Manchester City was accused by the Premier League on Monday of providing misleading information about its finances over a nine-year period when the club was attempting to establish itself as a force in English and European soccer following its takeover by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family.
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