Neymar injured, Richarlison scores for Brazil at the World Cup

LUSAIL, Qatar – While Neymar limped off the field with an ankle injury, Richarlison came through for the Seleção.

A spectacular acrobatic kick was followed by a simple close-range shot as Richarlison scored both goals in Brazil’s 2-0 World Cup win over Serbia on Thursday.

After the game, the Tottenham forward found out about the extent of Neymar’s injury.

“The most important thing for us is to have him 100% for the next game,” said Richarlison, whose first goal came after a build-up started by Neymar. “When I get to the hotel I’ll see how he’s doing.”

Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said Neymar sprained his right ankle. He declined to speculate on whether he would be available for the side’s next game against Switzerland on Monday.

“We put ice on it when he was on the bench and then in physical therapy,” Lasmar said. “There is no test scheduled at the moment but we will schedule it if necessary. He will be under surveillance. We will know more tomorrow.”

Neymar was also injured at the 2014 World Cup. At his home game in Brazil, his tournament in the quarter-finals against Colombia ended with a back injury when he had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany in the semifinals.

Neymar was fouled nine times in the game against Serbia, four times more than any other player at this year’s World Cup. But while he was taking care of Neymar, the opposing defense couldn’t stop Richarlison.

He had his back to goal as he sent the ball airborne with a touch near the penalty spot, then turned and bounced off the ground before right-footed the ball into the net in the 73rd minute lap.

“My childhood dream has come true,” said Richarlison, who is playing in his first World Cup. “We knew it would be difficult to get past them. I’m used to playing defensive sides like this in England. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities I had, and I did.”

Brazil struggled to get past the Serbian defense until Richarlison scored from close range in the 62nd minute. Vinícius Júnior set up both goals.

Neymar, seeking his first major title with Brazil, remained on 75 goals for the national team, two shy of Pelé’s goalscoring record.

He was tackled hard a few times and sprained his right ankle in the second half. He was crying on the bench after coming on as a substitute in the 79th and limping as he left the stadium.

Brazil coach Tite started with an attacking squad that included four forwards – Neymar, Vinícius Júnior, Raphinha and Richarlison. Attacking midfielder Lucas Paquetá played alongside Casemiro, the lone defensive midfielder.

But Serbia had several players behind and prevented Brazil from creating many meaningful chances. Neymar tried to control the pace but struggled to break free. He, Vinícius Júnior and Raphinha missed chances early on.

Brazil’s best chance before Richarlison’s opener was a low-range effort from Alex Sandro, who hit the post in the 60′. Neymar had his best chances with a free-kick in the 50th and a shot from near the penalty spot in the 55th minute.

Serbia had their own injury problems for the game.

“We have three key players injured – it’s too much for us,” said Serbia coach Dragan Stojković. “We are not Brazil with 200 million people. We are a very small country.”

Neymar, 30, came to his third World Cup as Brazil’s main attraction. He helped the Seleção win the 2013 Confederations Cup and their first Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, but has yet to win a major title with the national team.

Brazil, who are trying to win their first World Cup in two decades, are unbeaten in their last 20 opening games with 17 wins. It has finished first in its group for the last 10 World Championships.