Richarlison scored his fourth and fifth goals of the tournament as Brazil sealed their place in the quarter-finals at Tokyo 2020, even if they left it late to beat a hard-working Saudi Arabia.
Requiring just a point to progress, Andre Jardine’s side scored with their first opportunity as Saudi Arabia – who were already eliminated with two losses – switched off at a set-piece. Claudinho’s corner delivery was met by Matheus Cunha’s powerful header and although goalkeeper Jan Bukhari got a hand to it, he couldn’t keep it out.
Antony could have given Brazil some breathing space but his header crashed off the crossbar, and just minutes later Saudi Arabia found themselves back on level terms through a set-piece of their own as Abduleah Al-Amri guided in Salman Al-Faraj’s free-kick.
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Brazil played with more intensity after the restart and ought to have been ahead when Cunha hit the post with the goal gaping.
Eventually their pressure would tell in the 76th-minute when Richarlison, lurking at the back post as Saudi Arabia failed to clear a corner, was in place to convert from point-blank range.
It was another poacher’s finish from the Everton forward as he grabbed his second of the game in the third minute of injury-time, slotting home from Reinier’s pass across the face of goal.
The victory ensures Brazil top Group D with seven points and could potentially meet South American rivals Argentina in the last eight.
TALKING POINT - In-form Richarlison inspires Brazil
It was far from plain sailing at times, but Brazil’s superiority showed through in the end. There are question marks in certain areas in Andre Jardine’s side, with the defence the main cause for concern. But with the sheer number of chances this side creates, they are always likely to win games, particularly when they can boast the quality of Richarlison.
It has been a busy summer for the Everton forward, who was also involved in the Copa America. His club may not be enthused by all the minutes he’s playing, but Brazil are certainly reaping the benefits of his sharpness right now.
He already has five goals in three games; Jardine will be hoping he has a few more in his locker as Brazil look to retain their Olympic crown.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Richarlison (Brazil)
Works hard, isn’t afraid to drop deep or move into the channels to become involved and yet always seems to be in the right place to score goals. Another supreme performance.
Saudi Arabia: Bukhari 6, Al-Hindi 5, Al-Dawsari 6, Al-Amri 7, Al-Sharani 6, Hamid 6, Al-Dawsari 6, Al-Faraj 6, Al-Hassan 5, Al-Najei 5, Al-Hamden 6.. subs: Al Ghannam N/A, Al-Omran N/A, Ali 5, Ghareeb 6,
Brazil: Santos 6, Arana 7, Carlos 7, Nino 6, Alves 6, Guimaraes 7, Henrique 7, Claudinho 6, Cunha 6, Antony 5, Richarlison 9.. subs: Reinier 7, Martinelli N/A, Menino N/A, Malcom 8, Abner N/A.
14' - GOAL! Saudi Arabia 0-1 Brazil (Matheus Cunha): Somewhat against the run of play, Brazil lead! Cunha is left totally unmarked at a corner to meet Claudinho's whipped delivery and although Jan Bukhari gets a hand to his powerful header, he can't keep it out.
20' - Woodwork! Brazil almost double their advantage after a lovely attacking move. Carlos slips it down the channel to Arana whose deep cross picks out Antony at the back post. He gets plenty of venom in his header but can only watch as it crashes off the crossbar with the goalkeeper beaten.
27' - GOAL! Saudi Arabia 1-1 Brazil (Abdulelah Al-Amri): We are level at 1-1! From the resultant free-kick, whipped in by Al-Faraj into the heart of the Brazilian penalty area, Al-Amri climbs highest and guides his header into the corner. Brazil's defence is very questionable, and now we have a game on our hands!
66' - Off the post! For the second time today, Brazil are denied by the woodwork! Cunha cannot believe he's hit the post with the goal gaping! Henrique had seen his shot well saved by Bukhari, but the rebound fell kindly for Cunha and he failed to convert!
76' - GOAL! Saudi Arabia 1-2 Brazil (Richarlison): Brazil have their goal! Richarlison, with his fourth of the tournament, is lurking at the back post as Brazil keep the ball alive from a corner delivery and he's in the right place at the right time to slot home from Guimaraes' headed knock-down.
90'+3 - GOAL! Saudi Arabia 1-3 Brazil (Richarlison): A lovely team goal from Brazil, finished by Richarlison (of course it is!). Malcom has been excellent since he came on and he slips it into the path of Reinier, who looks up and rolls it for Richarlison for a simple finish. His fifth of the tournament now!
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