Brazil edged out Costa Rica via Coutinho, Neymar stoppage time strikes

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Philippe Coutinho and Neymar bailed Brazil out with stoppage-time strikes against Costa Rica following another uninspiring display at the 2018 World Cup.

Coach Tite’s team were heading for a second inglorious draw when Barcelona midfielder Coutinho popped up to poke home from Roberto Firmino’s nod down.

And with seconds remaining Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, tapped in Douglas Costa’s cross to secure Brazil’s first win of the tournament.

Their hopes of victory looked to have been dashed when they had a penalty decision overturned by VAR in the 78th minute after referee Bjorn Kuipers had initially ruled Neymar had been brought down in the area.

As it stands Brazil currently lead Group E and could go through with a draw in their final pool match against Serbia.

How this Brazil side could do with just a sprinkling of the brio of the teams of 1970 and 1982.

In the two games they have played so far the class of 2018 have been pedestrian for long periods – reminiscent of Carlos Alberto Parreira’s heavily-criticised champions from 1994.

Even that side scored more goals in their opening two games than Tite’s outfit, who too often are cautious in their approach play and whose illustrious attack have yet to replicate their club form.

Brazil were listless in the opening 45 minutes.

After being fouled 10 times in the opening game against Switzerland, Neymar, perhaps unfairly criticised after the first match for not being a team player, was once again targeted by defenders and spent more yet time with his face in the turf.

Barcelona’s Coutinho, who scored with a brilliant strike in the opening game, failed to find his range and Chelsea’s Willian, taken off at half-time, was awful on the right.

The tempo increased, as did the chances for Brazil, after the break, although prior to the goals Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas was only tested by Neymar’s snapshot, while Jesus’ header came off the woodwork.

With 15 minutes remaining it was desperation time for the five-time winners, with Tite and the vast number of Brazilians inside the Saint Petersburg stadium hoping for a miracle.

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