An image of Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr. has left his nation in shock after he limped off the field with a swollen ankle in the 2-0 win over Serbia at the FIFA World Cup. Brazil opened their FIFA World Cup in Qatar with a solid performance after striker Richarlison scored twice including a spectacular swivelling volley to get his nation's quest for a sixth World Cup title off to a perfect start.
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The Tottenham Hotspur forward has been in fine form when wearing the golden yellow kit of Brazil this year and opened the scoring with an easy tap-in before doubling the lead with his acrobatic effort. Tite's decision to go with four forwards - Neymar, Vinicius Jr., Raphinha and Richarlison - in his attacking lineup paid off handsomely as the South Americans dominated the match and made Serbia work hard every time they went forward.
However, Brazil and football fans were left stunned when talisman Neymar's ankle was caught under a sliding challenge. The national icon limped off the field and took his boot off, which allowed cameras to pick up the extent of the injury.
And images showed Neymar's ankle immediately swollen. Brazil's second-highest ever goal scorer was captured distraught on the bench, before limping down the tunnel.
Early reports suggested a sprained ankle for the Brazilian, which could see him miss the remainder of the group stage and potentially the rest of the tournament. The football world was quick to rally around the Brazilian after he was also injured at the 2014 World Cup in his home nation after a back injury.
Is that the end of Neymar's World Cup? 🥺 pic.twitter.com/F9IBZpOXF5
— Eurosport (@eurosport) November 24, 2022
🚨 𝗢𝗙𝗙𝗜𝗖𝗜𝗔𝗟: Brazil's team doctor has announced that Neymar has sprained his right ankle.
The star player will undergo medical tests and an assessment will be made in 24 hours.#BRA | #FIFAWorldCup pic.twitter.com/uiImmNw1wa
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) November 24, 2022
— Roberto Rojas (@RobertoRojas97) November 24, 2022
— Laura Williamson (@lmwilliamson7) November 24, 2022
Really hope Neymar's okay. He was targeted pretty heavily tonight, as he always is. Incredible attacking talents in this Brazil side but when he's on form, he's still the best of them.
— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) November 24, 2022
Neymar in tears, something you hate to see. 😢
Fingers crossed it's nothing too serious. 🤞 pic.twitter.com/5WhfoQcyRw
— 90min (@90min_Football) November 24, 2022
— Boabeng Barhyster Brhyghyt Jnr (@khay_ikon) November 24, 2022
Neymar is Cursed to be injured when Brazil needs him the most, you can't tell me otherwise
— Patrick💱 (@Divine_pa3rick) November 24, 2022
If Neymar is out of the World Cup after one game that's terrible.....
— Mark Goldbridge (@markgoldbridge) November 24, 2022
Brazil sizzle against Serbia at World Cup
While it took some time for Brazil to crack a stoic Serbian defence, the dynamic attacking unit shone.Vinicius used his acceleration to good effect to constantly beat his man while Neymar, playing in a free role, often found pockets of space, but a well-drilled Serbian defence kept Brazil at bay in the first half.
Serbia had been sweating over the fitness of their all-time top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic but coach Dragan Stojkovic named him in the starting team. Unlike Brazil's forward line, however, which threatened from all sides, the Fulham striker found himself isolated up front with little service.
The second half was one-way traffic as Brazil shifted through the gears, Richarlison and Neymar wasting gilt-edged chances inside the box and Alex Sandro and Casemiro sending long-range efforts against the woodwork.
The breakthrough came just after the hour from brilliant work by Neymar to find Vinicius, whose initial shot was saved by Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, but Richarlison was in the right place to tap in the rebound for his first World Cup goal.Serbia had been playing conservatively up to that point and had no choice but to push forward which gave Brazil more space.
The second goal from Richarlison brought the biggest roar of the night from the Brazilian contingent. As Richarlison attempted to control a cross from Vinicius, the ball popped over his head and he leapt into the air to volley home a bicycle kick and seal the win for Brazil.
"It is mad, you dream of this. It was a good game," Richarlison said.
"(Because of injury) I was worried that I wouldn't even be here. It was worth it to fight hard to get here."
Richarlison has now scored nine goals for Brazil this year and his goals on Thursday left the tournament favourites top of Group G. "In the second half they were a bit more tired, which we expected," said Brazil midfielder Casemiro. "Richarlison is a super player, we knew that in the box he is a super striker."
Switzerland are second in the group after they beat Cameroon 1-0 and Serbia are bottom.
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