There was the same old Neymar there, looking fit and scoring a goal close to Pele’s all-time record and leading Brazil to the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
Neymar returned from injury in the Round of 16, as Brazil beat South Korea 4-1 on Monday, and took the halftime penalty. One of the goals set by Pele, who said he would watch the match from his hospital bed in Sao Paulo, reached 76 goals with the national team.
Pele, 82, is recovering from a respiratory infection aggravated by COVID-19 and is worrying fans in Brazil and Qatar about his condition. After the match, Neymar carried a picture of the football star and a banner with the words “Pele” on it, and then the whole team posed behind him near the midfield.
Neymar injured the ligaments in his right ankle in the team’s opening game against Serbia, and there were doubts at the time whether he would play again in the World Cup. He was clearly back and showed no signs of injury as he led Brazil to a comfortable victory and their eighth consecutive World Cup quarterfinals.
Brazil will face Croatia on Friday.
One more Quarterfinal fixture to be decided 👀 #FIFAWorldCup #Qatar2022
Neymar scored his first goal in this year’s World Cup by waiting for the goalkeeper to pick a side in the 13th minute, then kissing the ball and calmly sending a low shot from the ground. He danced as his teammates gathered around him, then danced with Vinicius Junior and the rest of his teammates, then raised his arms to the sky and smiled broadly.
Neymar was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with an injury.
After the match, the fans cheered for him as he left the field. He entered the game in the 81st minute.
Vinicius Junior scored the first in-court goal after Raphinha’s midway in the seventh minute, Richarlison took the lead at close range after a nice pass by the Brazilians on 29, and Lucas Paqueta finished fourth at halftime. An assist from Vinicius Junior.
Paik Seung-ho scored South Korea’s goal in the 76th minute.
There were many banners and jerseys honoring Pele at the stadium 974, and the fans chanted the name of the Brazilian great player and unfurled a large banner with Pele’s picture behind one of the goals in the 10th minute of each half. Pele used to wear the number 10 jersey.
It was the last World Cup match at Stadium 974, which was expected to be completely dismantled. The port-side structure, which houses more than 40,000 fans, was built in part from recycled shipping containers and can be shipped to other countries that need infrastructure.